US ‘on the verge’ of ending Syria talks with Russia

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The US is “on the verge” of ending talks on Syria
with Russia following days of deadly attacks on
Aleppo, according to the US secretary of state.

US officials say the administration is looking at
other ways to end the war in Syria that has been
going on for over five years.
Speaking at the Atlantic Council think-tank on
Thursday, John Kerry said that the US is “on the
verge of suspending the discussion because it’s
irrational in the context of the kind of bombing
taking place”.
He said the US has no indication of Russia’s
“seriousness of purpose” and discussions made no
sense at a time when Russian and Syrian
warplanes were bombing rebel-held areas of
Syria’s second largest city.

The US has been working with Russia for months
to try to secure a ceasefire in Syria.
The latest truce collapsed last week after several
days of relative calm.
The joint bombardment of Aleppo has left more
than 400 people dead and at least 1,700 wounded
since last week
On Wednesday, US officials told Reuters news
agency that President Barack Obama’s government
had begun to consider tougher responses –
including military options – to President Bashar al-
Assad government’s assault on Aleppo.
The officials said the failure of diplomacy in Syria
has left the US administration no choice but to
consider alternatives, most of which involve some
use of force and have been examined before but
held in abeyance.
Earlier, Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign
minister, said the US threat to suspend talks on
Syria over the bombardment of Aleppo’s rebel-held
areas constitutes “an emotional breakdown”.
Ryabkov also rejected US calls for a week-long
truce as “unacceptable”, but said a two-day
ceasefire could allow desperately needed aid to
reach the more than 250,000 civilians trapped in
Aleppo.

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“They [the Russians] say that the US is fixated on
demands of a seven-day pause for reasons only
they know,” he said.
“It seems after the negotiations that brought about
the collapsed ceasefire – there is a widening gulf
between the Russians and the Americans.”
Ryabkov’s comments followed a previous warning
by Kerry that the US would end talks on the
conflict, as well as a military pact that involved
targeting the ISIL and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham
groups unless Russia halted the assault on
Aleppo.

Kerry conveyed the message in a call to his
Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Wednesday
in which he voiced “grave concern” over the Syrian
government’s air and land attacks on Aleppo.
Kerry said the US held Russia responsible for the
use of incendiary and bunker buster bombs which
put Aleppo civilians at great risk, according to
John Kirby, the State Department spokesperson.
The Syrian government’s offensive to recapture all
of Aleppo – with Russian air support and Iranian
help on the ground – has been accompanied by
bombing that residents have described as
unprecedented in its ferocity.
On Wednesday, at least six civilians were killed
when air strikes hit two hospitals in rebel-
controlled parts of Aleppo.

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