Kerry urges restored Syrian truce especially in Aleppo

By Fatih Erel

GENEVA (AA) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called for Syria’s floundering cessation of hostilities to be restored, particularly in Aleppo where violence has escalated in recent days.

Kerry made the remarks after meeting with UN Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura in Geneva on Monday, at a joint news conference.

Kerry said the cessation of hostilities had been put to the test in the last few weeks and had collapsed in some areas.

The pair said they would focus on restoring the truce, particularly in Aleppo.

“We are working over these next hours intensely in order to try to restore the cessation of hostilities and at the same time to raise the level of accountability that will accompany the day-to-day process of implementing this cease-fire,” Kerry said.

Kerry said Russia and the U.S. agreed on additional personnel who would work in Geneva in order to help implement truces.

De Mistura indicated he would go to Moscow to discuss the cessation of hostilities with Russian officials.

He said: “Tomorrow, as we discussed, I am going to Moscow and the message will be exactly the same. I hope really, that the message we gave at the Security Council the other day appealing to both the US and Russia and the special team we have, which is called the International Syria Support Group [ISSG], will be reinvigorating what has been a major achievement.”

Kerry arrived in Geneva on Sunday in an urgent bid to revive a U.S- and Russia-brokered cease-fire from late February that has all but fallen apart as Syrian regime forces intensified their attacks, especially in Aleppo, over the last 10 days; more than 250 civilians have been killed during airstrikes.

De Mistura said it would be “possible to have talks when finally the cessation of hostilities is reducing the violence on them [civilians]. Tomorrow, as we discussed, I am going to Moscow and the message will be exactly the same”.

Kerry also met with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Before the meeting, Jubeir strongly denounced the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying: “What is happening in Aleppo is an outrage. It’s a violation of all humanitarian laws. It’s a crime. It’s a violation of all the understandings that were reached during the Vienna process.

“It’s a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. It is a violation of the understandings reached with regard to the cessation of hostilities.

“There is only one that is flying airplanes, and that is Bashar al-Assad and his allies, so they are responsible for the massacre of women, children, and the elderly.

“They are responsible for the murder of doctors and medical personnel, and this situation, any way you slice it, will not stand. The world is not going to allow them to get away with this.”

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

Since then, more than 250,000 people have been killed, according to UN figures.