US-Russia task force monitoring Syria truce violations
A U.S.-Russian task force is investigating claims of violations of a three-day-old cessation of hostilities agreement in Syria, America’s top diplomat said Monday.
"During that time I spoke to [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov for several times and we have agreed that now there have been some number of violations reported on both sides and we take them all very seriously," John Kerry said during a press conference in Washington, D.C.
Saying that the task force was going to track down each violation and work even more to guarantee that missions are deep only against Daesh and al-Nusra, Kerry noted that aerial bombardments and shellings "against participants in the cessation of hostilities" had to end.
He said the task force was coordinating as best as possible to be able to designate and understand where Daesh and al-Nusra were operating in Syria.
"It's obvious that the next few days will be critical in determining whether or not we'll be able to develop some real momentum towards a de-escalation of the conflict," he said.
"I reiterate our call for all parties to abide by the cessation of hostilities, to cooperate in the delivery of the humanitarian aid and to support the negotiations that aim a Syrian-led political transition in accordance with the 2012 Geneva Communique and UN Security Council resolution 2254."
Kerry also welcomed the news that humanitarian aid has reached thousands of Syrians who live in besieged areas.
But still, he criticized Syrian forces and officials for intercepting international humanitarian aid shipments and stealing medicine or other supplies.
Daesh and the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, are excluded from the agreement to halt the fighting.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would continue military operations against Daesh and other terrorist groups operating in Syria "even after the cease-fire takes effect".
But while Moscow claims to be confining its airstrikes to Daesh positions, some NATO members say Russia is targeting moderate opposition groups opposed to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Since last September, ongoing Russian airstrikes have forced more than half a million Syrians to flee their homes in the war-torn country, with many seeking shelter in Turkey or other neighboring states.
Since the truce went into effect, the Assad regime -- which along with Russia is also supported by Lebanon’s Hezbollah group -- has also continued to carry out attacks, both from the air and on the ground.
Last Modified: 2016-03-01 12:28:04
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