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Russia Rejects Kerry’s Idea of Grounding Russian, Syrian Planes | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russian Mil Mi-26 Halo helicopter flies over the Red Square during the Victory Day parade in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2015. REUTERS

Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov rejected a proposal by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for Russia and Syria to halt flying over Syrian battle zones as unworkable, the RIA news agency reported on Thursday.

Kerry made his proposal at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, calling it a last chance to salvage a collapsing ceasefire and find a way “out of the carnage”.

Russia spurned his plea with warplanes mounting the heaviest air strikes in months against opposition-held districts of the city of Aleppo overnight, burying any hope for the revival of a doomed ceasefire.

RIA cited Ryabkov as explaining why Moscow had rejected Kerry’s idea.

“This (Kerry’s) plan won’t work,” it cited him as saying.

“At least not until such time as not just the United States but also other players in this process … have ensured that those groups who remain convinced that war is the only way of resolving the problem and that violence is the only way of toppling Assad embrace the non-use of force.”

Ryabkov said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kerry would continue discussing Syria at the U.N. on Thursday.

On the other hand, the United States’ top general called Monday’s strike on an aid convoy in Syria an “unacceptable atrocity,” and added it was his judgment that Russia likely carried out the strike even if a Syrian role could not be completely be ruled out.

“I don’t have the facts. What we know are two Russian aircraft were in that area at that time. My judgment would be that they did (it),” General Joseph Dunford told a Senate hearing.

“There were also some other aircraft in the area that belonged to the regime, at or about the same time, so I can’t conclusively say that it was the Russians. But it was either the Russians or the (Syrian) regime.”