Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

U.S. and Russia Meet Reluctantly to Save Syria Ceasefire | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Reuters

New York-Amid sentiments of blame, pessimism and mutual accusations, the U.S. and Russia agreed to hold another round of talks to protect the weak hopes of reviving a ceasefire deal in Syria.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also said Friday he will hold another meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG), with hopes of safeguarding the ceasefire and ending the fighting.

Following a stormy meeting of the ISSG that lasted more than two hours on Thursday night, a senior U.S. administration official told reporters: “We have documents showing the Syrian regime is continuing to attack the city of Aleppo.”

He said both Russia and the Syrian regime need to take extraordinary steps to get the process back on track.

“We are not sure at this point whether the Russians are ready and willing to take those kinds of steps,” he said.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that talks should continue until the cessation of fighting. However, the Russian foreign minister rejected a U.S. suggestion to stop Syrian jets from flying above Aleppo.

According to an official who attended the meeting of the ISGG, Kerry was angry as Lavrov spoke, shouting: “Even as we meet here, they continue to attack.”

Following the meeting, Kerry looked frustrated as he told reporters: “We can’t be the only ones trying to hold this door open. Russia and the regime must do their part.”

Separately, Asharq Al-Awsat received a copy of the U.S.-Russian ceasefire deal, which was signed between the countries on September 9.

The text said Washington and Moscow are committed to trying to revive the deal and to undertake joint efforts to stabilize the situation in Syria.

Both sides decided to keep the agreement confidential. They also agreed on the delineation of territories controlled by ISIS, Al-Nusra Front and moderate armed opposition forces. The latter was considered a key priority, as does separating moderate opposition forces from Nusra.

The text also stipulated ceasing all attacks with any weapons, including aerial bombardments, rockets, mortars, and anti-tank guided missiles; refraining from acquiring or seeking to acquire territory during the ceasefire period; allowing humanitarian agencies rapid, safe, unhindered and sustained access throughout areas under their operational control and allowing immediate humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need; employing proportionate use of force if and when responding in self-defense.