Russia plans to continue airstrikes against Syrian villages despite a direct appeal by Secretary of State John Kerry and the UN for a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to starving civilians.
Fox News reports not only has the Putin-led government refused the ceasefire, it has escalated its involvement, introducing four of its most advanced fighter jets to assist in the airstrikes. Some of the Russian targets include CIA-backed rebel fighters who oppose the Assad regime.
“The decision to send the Su-35S jets poses yet another hurdle for Kerry’s efforts to proceed with peace talks. The Su-35S is Russia’s most advanced warplane, capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions,” one official familiar with the jet told Fox News.
Russia’s move comes despite two UN resolutions calling for a ceasefire and caused peace talks in Geneva to derail Wednesday.
“[T]here will be a ceasefire,” Kerry predicted Tuesday in Rome. “We expect a ceasefire. And we expect adherence to the ceasefire. And we expect full humanitarian access.”
Two days later, the bombing missions continue.
“Russian strikes will not cease [in Syria] … I don’t see why these airstrikes should be stopped,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday in Oman.
Hours later, the UN talks fell apart, according to Fox.
The top U.S. general in Iraq made it clear that America wants to avoid a confrontation with Russia, despite Putin’s strikes against the U.S.-backed rebels.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as a proxy war. I would say that we are pursuing different goals,” Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland told reporters, speaking from Baghdad earlier this week.
The U.N. chief humanitarian coordinator says close to 500,000 Syrians are cut off from food assistance, surrounded by Bashar Assad’s forces, Fox reported.
“We saw people who are clearly malnourished, especially children, we saw people who are extremely thin, skeletons, that are now barely moving,” Yacoub El Hillo, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Syria, told Reuters.
Kerry said Tuesday that some besieged Syrians have been reduced to eating leaves and grass. “Starvation as a tactic of war is against the laws of war and it is being used every single day as a tactic by the Assad regime,” he said.
The Washington Post editorial board blamed Kerry’s willingness to compromise with Putin for the unfolding humanitarian crisis. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s handling of the Syrian crisis appears to be enabling those very war crimes,” the paper wrote.
The Post charges the administration is only offering strong rhetoric, but nothing to back it up. “On that, Mr. Kerry has had exactly nothing to say. Expect the sieges, the bombing, the starvation — and the statements — to continue.”