Russia and Syria’s recent announcement of an 8 hour halt to their bombardment of eastern Aleppo was greeted with “too little, too late” by State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner. The United Nations has said that an eight-hour pause is not long enough to allow effective humanitarian aid to reach the besieged city of approximately 275,000 civilians that has been targeted by unprecedented numbers of airstrikes for months, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians.
But that does not mean that the United States has given up on trying to reduce the violence throughout Syria and establish the grounds for a political solution to the conflict there.
Secretary of State John Kerry met recently in Lausanne, Switzerland with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and seven foreign ministers from the region where they talked over the possibility of implementing a real cessation of hostilities in Aleppo.
“We had a very frank discussion with the Russians and Iranians about exactly how we could get there…We’re going to continue to work at this because no one has a right to just walk away and allow Aleppo to continue to be bombed without making every effort possible in order to stop it.”
What is happening in Aleppo, said Secretary Kerry is “a horrendous step back in time to a kind of barbarianism, a use of force that is of insult to all of the values that the United Nations and most countries believe should guide our actions.”
Secretary Kerry pointed out that contrary to Russia’s claim that it is fighting terrorists in Syria, “80-85 percent of their bombing has been done against the opposition, the moderate opposition:”
“And they do that in order to support Assad under the guise of fighting terror. But they would be hard-pressed to show the number of times they have actually gone after Daesh.”
Secretary Kerry said “No one is fooled” by what Russia is doing. But the issue is “whether or not we can find a way forward to be able to try to achieve a ceasefire and actually get to the table to talk about the political solution that [the Russians] say is the only way to settle the fight in Syria. If it is the only way to settle it, then they should show by their actions that this is in fact what they are choosing to do.”