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Excerpts: Moscow accuses US protecting jihadist group in Syria. Kerry

Saturday, October 1, 2016 14:22
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Excerpts: Moscow accuses US protecting jihadist group in Syria. Kerry
laments lack of Syria options October 01, 2016

+++SOURCE:Naharnet(Lebanon)1 Oct.’16:”Moscow Accuses U.S. of Sparing Syria
Jihadist Group”,by Agence France Presse
SUBJECT:Moscow accuses US protecting jihadist group in Syria

FULL TEXT:Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday[30 Sept] accused
the United States of protecting a jihadist group in Syria in its effort to
overthrow the beleaguered regime of President Bashar Assad.

In an interview aired Friday[30 Sept] on BBC World News, Lavrov said
Washington had vowed to “take as a priority an obligation to separate the
opposition” from the former al-Qaida affiliate once known as al-Nusra Front,
but that it had not done so.

“We have more and more reasons to believe that from the very beginning the
plan was to spare Nusra and to keep it just in case for Plan B or stage two,
when it would be time to change the regime,” Lavrov said.

Moscow has repeatedly accused the U.S. of failing on its commitment to
persuade rebel forces to distance themselves from jihadist groups such as
al-Nusra, which changed its name to Fateh al-Sham Front in July after
renouncing its ties to al-Qaida.

A short-lived truce brokered by Moscow and Washington earlier this month
could have led the two countries to coordinate strikes against jihadists,
but the deal fell apart as both sides blamed each other for its failure.

Moscow has been accused of indiscriminately bombing Aleppo’s
opposition-controlled east as it helps an assault currently being conducted
by Syrian government troops to capture all of the country’s second city.

The United Nations has warned that a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding
in Aleppo unlike any witnessed so far in Syria’s five-year war, which has
claimed more than 300,000 lives.

Russia has said it would continue its Syrian bombing campaign in spite of
US.. warnings that Washington would suspend talks unless Moscow stopped its
assault on Aleppo.

In a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday[30Sept],
Lavrov stressed Moscow’s “readiness to continue to consider additional
possibilities” to work with the United States on normalizing the situation
in Aleppo, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Lavrov also stressed Russia “remains open for dialogue with the United
States on all key issues” regarding Syria, the statement said.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday that more
than 9,300 people — including some 3,800 civilians — had been killed in a
year of Russian air strikes in Syria in support of Assad.

Moscow quickly dismissed the claim, insisting its bombing campaign had
prevented jihadists from taking over in the war-torn country.

+++SOURCE:Naharnet(Lebanon 1 Oct.’16:”Kerry Laments Lack of Syria Options in
Leaked Audio”, by Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Kerry laments lack of Syria options

QUOTE:Sec.of State John Kerry is frustrated that his diplomatic efforts…were
not backed up by US military force”

FULL TEXT:Secretary of State John Kerry is frustrated that his diplomatic
efforts to end Syria’s civil war were not backed up by US military force,
according to a recording leaked Friday 30 Sept.

In the audio released by the New York Times, Kerry is heard lamenting to a
group of Syrian civilians last week in New York that his call for US action
against Bashar al-Assad’s government fell on deaf ears.

“I think you’re looking at three people, four people in the administration
who have all argued for use of force, and I lost the argument,” he tells the
group.

“I’ve argued for the use of force … but things evolved into a different
process.”

State Department spokesman John Kirby did not deny that the recording –
made at a private meeting in a diplomatic mission on the sidelines of the UN
General Assembly — is authentic.

“While we will decline to comment on a private conversation, Secretary Kerry
was grateful for the chance to meet with this group of Syrians, to hear
their concerns first hand and to express our continued focus on ending this
civil war,” he said.

It has been widely reported that Kerry pushed President Barack Obama to take
a more robust path in Syria, to give teeth to international efforts to force
Assad aside and end a civil war now heading into its sixth year.

But Washington’s top diplomat has been careful to present a united front
with the White House in public, even as he attempts to work with Moscow to
rein in Assad’s forces and build space for a political dialogue.

In August 2013, after Assad had been accused of firing chemical weapons at
civilians, Kerry gave a ferocious speech that was seen as prefiguring a
retaliatory US military strike — only for Obama to back down only hours
later.

Kerry refers to the speech incident in Friday’s[30Sept] leaked recording,
but blames the US Congress for refusing to vote to authorize the US military
to take action against Assad.

At last week’s meeting, the Syrians — sympathizers with the rebellion
against Assad — expressed frustration that US efforts in their country are
focused on fighting the Islamic State group and not on Assad or his allies.

Instead, on September 9, Kerry agreed with Assad’s ally Moscow that there
should be a ceasefire between the regime and the US-backed rebels. The truce
came into force on September 12 but fell apart after a week.

Russia and the United States are now blaming each other for the breakdown
and Assad’s Russian-backed forces have launched an assault on rebel-held
eastern Aleppo.

“Look, I get it,” Kerry tells the incredulous Syrians.

“A lot of us wish there was an enforcement mechanism right now. A lot of us
have been fighting for one, but we don’t have one right now and that’s set,”
he warned.

“We’re trying to pursue the diplomacy, and I understand it’s frustrating.
You have nobody more frustrated than we are.”
=================
Sue Lerner – Associate, IMRA

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