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Washington Suspends Coordination with Moscow, Studies 6 Options in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Drone footage obtained by Reuters shows damaged buildings in a rebel-held area of Aleppo, Syria/ Handout via Reuters TV

Washington, Beirut- Washington suspended Monday its participation in bilateral channels with Moscow over efforts to revive a failed ceasefire in Syria and to form a joint military cell that could attack extremist groups.

“This is not a decision that was taken lightly,” said John Kirby, U.S. Assistant Secretary and Department spokesperson. Kirby accused Russia and its ally, the Syrian regime, of intensifying attacks against civilian areas.

The spokesperson said the U.S. will continue to utilize the channel of communications established with Russia to de-conflict counterterrorism operations in Syria.

However, he said, “Washington will withdraw personnel that had been dispatched in anticipation of the possible establishment of the Joint Implementation Center.”

“Everybody’s patience with Russia has run out,” AFP quoted White House spokesman Josh Earnest as saying.

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama had asked several agencies to study choices that the U.S. had in dealing with the Syrian crisis. The president’s request came when diplomatic efforts failed due to the Syrian regime’s intransigent attitude and the Russian delays in implementing a ceasefire deal it had signed with Washington last month to stop the fighting in Syria.

Several informed U.S. sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the administration of President Obama was studying six main choices to deal with the aggravating crisis in Syria.

First, Washington is looking to use diplomatic force with Russia, hoping to make Moscow fulfill its previous promises. If not, the U.S. would military intervene in Syria by sending a special military force and targeting specific locations in Aleppo.

Sources said that the choice of military intervention in Syria is considered the most dramatic scenario and the least possible, because the White House rejects it. However, the Obama administration wants to show that it was studying military choices in Syria or at least, it was sending signs to Russia that the military force was an option at the table.

The sources said that Obama’s administration was also studying the possibility of establishing a buffer zone and a no-fly zone to protect civilians. Other choices include sending more humanitarian aid for Syrians.

The sources added that the U.S. would keep diplomatic channels with the Syria Support Group open.

Reports also said that one of the military solutions presented by the U.S. Department of Defense included sending more U.S. air and naval forces to the Middle East, particularly that a French aircraft carrier was on its way to the region.

Other military options would be a plan to offer more weapons for arming the Syrian opposition.

Therefore, the Obama administration plans to use the “stick and carrot” policy in dealing with Russia, a scenario rejected by Pentagon officials who say Moscow was acting elusively with Washington.

Observers say that the threats of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to suspend participation in bilateral channels with Russia did not have a great impact in Moscow. On the contrary, several media reports said Russia had escalated its air attacks in Syria during the past few days.

Meanwhile, the news website “Dorar Shamiya” said yesterday that Mohammed Rida, a high-ranking officer at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, was killed yesterday during fighting in Aleppo.

Opposition activist in Aleppo Ahed al-Sayyed told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iranian officer “was killed during an attack launched by one of the Iranian units on the eastern part of Aleppo.”

“Revolutionists were capable to face the Iranian attack, which led to the killing of three more Iranians and a number of Iran-related militia members,” he added.