Russia says rebel violations make Syria truce 'pointless'

2016-09-19 20:19
Aleppo's rebel-held eastern district of Sakhur. (Karam Al-Masri, AFP)

Aleppo's rebel-held eastern district of Sakhur. (Karam Al-Masri, AFP)

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Moscow - Russia's defence ministry on Monday appeared to bury a week-long Syria ceasefire brokered with the United States, saying rebel violations made it "pointless" for government troops to uphold the truce.

"Considering that the conditions of the ceasefire are not being respected by the rebels, we consider it pointless for the Syrian government forces to respect it unilaterally," Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy said in a televised briefing.

Rudskoy said the United States and rebel groups it backs "have not fulfilled one of the obligations taken upon themselves as part of the Geneva agreements," referring to a truce deal struck earlier this month in the Swiss city.

He said "the main issue" was that moderate opposition units had not been separated from the fighters of Syria's former al-Qaeda affiliate on the ground.

The comments come with the ceasefire already appearing to teeter on the brink of collapse after a US-led coalition strike killed dozens of regime soldiers on Saturday and the ravaged city of Aleppo was targeted by its first raids in nearly a week.

Since the ceasefire came into force a week ago, Russia and the United States have blamed each other for not doing enough to fulfill the deal, with relations strained even further by Saturday's deadly strikes.

Damascus' major ally Moscow insists that Syrian forces have fully respected the truce - which is meant to end hostilities and ensure aid deliveries - but that rebels have kept up bombardments.

Rudskoy said that the week-long truce had been violated 302 times and that 63 civilians had been killed.

The truce also includes the demilitarisation of the Castello Road, the main route for humanitarian assistance into the divided Syrian city of Aleppo.

Rudskoy said that the rebels had not withdrawn their military hardware from the area, preventing Syrian troops from doing the same.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due on Wednesday to attend a special Security Council meeting on Syria, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

Read more on:    us  |  russia  |  syria  |  syria conflict

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