The Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni held Bashar Al-Assad’s regime responsible for sabotaging the truce in Syria yesterday and said that Russia must exercise its influence on it.
In statements that Gentiloni made and that were broadcasted by Italian state TV after a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in New York yesterday, he explained that he mentioned “to Lavrov that Italy was among the few countries that thought from the beginning that Russia’s presence in the Syrian crisis would potentially have positive repercussions, especially given the influence that Moscow can wield on Assad”.
He continued by saying that “I assured him (Lavrov) that this is the time to exercise influence, otherwise hopes will vanish and there will be no escape from the war”. He added that the Russian Foreign Minister informed him that “work is underway to stop the fighting in Syria, and there is still a chance at this level”.
According to Anadolu news agency, the Italian Foreign Minister considers the situation in Syria to still be “fragile” and he said that “from our point of view, the way out may be for both the United States and Russia to be more assertive towards those who sabotaged the truce in the last few days, and we believe that the primary responsibility rests on Assad’s shoulders. Therefore it is necessary to request that Russia exercises its influence on him”.
Gentiloni added that Italy “plays a role through which achievements can be realised, and this is its contribution to the intense diplomatic efforts in order to prevent the continuation of the war in Syria”.
Meanwhile, the United Nations asked President Bashar Al-Assad to allow it to distribute food aid that is suspended at the Turkish-Syrian border on Thursday, and warned that the food will go off on Monday.
The head of the United Nations humanitarian taskforce for Syria Jan Egeland told reporters in Geneva on Thursday that “Forty trucks are sitting at the Turkish-Syrian border. The food will be expiring on Monday.” He added that “The drivers are sleeping at the border and they have done so now for a week, so please, President Assad, do your bit to enable us to get to eastern Aleppo and also the other besieged areas,” Egeland added.
Trucks of humanitarian aid have been stuck in an isolated zone on the border between Turkey and Syria since the 12th of September. The United Nations hopes to distribute the aid in the eastern neighbourhoods that are under the control of opposition factions in the city of Aleppo where the regime’s forces have intermittently blockaded 250,000 people for more than two months.
In an interview with Associated Press, Bashar Al-Assad said that “Russia is not responsible for the bloody attack on an aid convoy that took place on Monday” despite US officials saying that they believe that Moscow was responsible for it.
Assad also questioned US intentions in Syria and said that it “does not have the will” to fight extremists in Syria. He added “I do not think that the United States would be prepared to join Russia in the fight against terrorists in Syria … The United States is not sincere about reaching a cessation of violence in Syria”.