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Kerry slams Russia for backing Syrian government

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech at The German Marshall Fund in Brussels, October 4, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

US Secretary of State John Kerry has criticized Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, describing it as "irresponsible and profoundly ill-advised."

Kerry made the remarks on Tuesday before the opening of a conference on Afghanistan organized by the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.

“My government is absolutely convinced that we are in pursuit of the correct goals in Syria,” Kerry said, adding, “but we acknowledge in sorrow, and I have to tell you with a great sense of outrage, that Russia has turned a blind eye to Assad’s deplorable use of…chlorine gas, barrel bombs against his people.”

He alleged that Russia and the Syrian government “have rejected diplomacy,” and instead are “trying to pursue a military victory over the broken bodies, the bombed-out hospitals, the traumatized children of a long-suffering land.”

US to blame for talks failure 

Russia, however, says that the US is to blame for the failure of diplomatic talks aimed at resolving the crisis in Syria.

“The problem is that for the whole time we were involved in Russian-American negotiations… we realized very clearly that the US had no joint position. Different organizations, different structures in Washington were taking different positions on what’s going on Syria. They had absolutely different views,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova during an interview with RT on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

The American officials have repeatedly changed their minds and points of view over the events in Syria, she said. “Probably, that was the main reason why they failed in fulfilling those agreements that we achieved.” 

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said Monday that Washington was suspending participation in bilateral channels with Moscow that were established to maintain the cessation of hostilities in the war-torn country.

He also accused Russia of not delivering on its commitments under a ceasefire agreement by stepping up airstrikes in the city of Aleppo, which has been divided between government forces in the west and the militants in the east since 2012.

Russia to keep assisting Syrian forces 

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the suspension of the talks did not mean "Russia will renounce its plans to assist Syria's armed forces in the fight against terrorism."

The Russian Defense Ministry announced on the same day that it had deployed the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system to Syria to defend Russia's naval base in the city of Tartus and its ships in the coastal area.

Last November, Russia deployed its newest S-400 missile system to Hmeimim Air Base in Syria following the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey in Syria.

Russia has been supporting the Syrian government in its campaign to take back Aleppo from the terrorists.

Government forces, backed by the Russian air campaign, have managed to gain more ground against foreign-sponsored militants in the strategic northwestern city.

Kerry urges Russia to ground its aircraft 

“Russia knows exactly what it needs to do to get that cessation implemented in a fair and reasonable way,” Kerry said on Tuesday.

"We will continue to pursue a meaningful, sustainable, enforceable cessation of hostilities throughout the country – and that includes the grounding of Syrian and Russian combat aircraft in designated areas," he noted.

The foreign-sponsored crisis in Syria began in March 2011 and has so far claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to a UN estimate.

On the ground

Meanwhile, the official SANA news agency said Syrian government forces killed 30 terrorists in Dayr Khabiya settlement in a suburb of the capital, Damascus.

Syrian government forces also destroyed 12 vehicles belonging to the terrorists. The army also gained control of eight buildings southwest of the strategic Abu Siyah Hill in the suburban Damascus area.

Government forces also repelled a militant attack and inflicted losses on militants in West Ghouta in the vicinity of Quneitra, the capital of the Quneitra Governorate in southwestern Syria.

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