Russia Dismisses Jackass Kerry Call to Ground Aircraft in Northern Syria
Thomas Grove, WSJ, Sep 22 2016
MOSCOW — Russia escalated rhetoric against Pindostan over a failing ceasefire in Syria on Thursday, rejecting a proposal by Jackass Kerry to ground aircraft to prevent further escalation of tensions in the country. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov dismissed Jackass’s call to prohibit aircraft from flying in northern Syria to prevent further attacks on aid convoys and prevent errant strikes, calling it “not functional.” He added that Moscow didn’t believe Washington was capable of exerting control over the various rebel groups as part of a ceasefire deal. He said:
Pindostan cannot guarantee the fulfillment of a whole range of elements of the agreement.
Earlier this month, Pindostan and Russia brokered a deal, but the ceasefire has been on the verge of a breakdown after the Pindo-led coalition
inadvertently bombed Syrian government forces this weekend and a convoy delivering humanitarian aid was bombed. Top Pindo boxtops blamed Russia for the convoy bombing and say they tracked two Russian Sukhoi 24 jets from a base in Latakia to the site of the strike. Russia denies carrying out the bombing. The latest broadside from Russia’s foreign ministry followed an acrimonious confrontation at the UN between Jackass and Sergei Lavrov over the fate of the ceasefire. Russia has forwarded various explanations for the destruction of the convoy, most recently suggesting an armed Pindosi drone in the vicinity of the site of the attack may have been responsible. The Pentagon says there were no Pindosi or coalition aircraft near the convoy at the time of the attack. Jackass has characterized the responses as cynical, saying they raise doubt about Russia’s intentions to abide by the ceasefire. Ryabkov said:
The Sec State cannot say such things without understanding the matter thoroughly.
Russia rejects Jackass’ idea of grounding Russian, Syrian planes
Reuters, Sep 22 2016
Sergei Ryabkov rejected a proposal by Jackass Kerry for Russia and Syria to halt flying over Syrian battle zones as unworkable, RIA reported on Thursday. Jackass made his proposal at the UNSC on Wednesday, calling it a last chance to salvage a collapsing ceasefire and find a way out of the “carnage.” Russia and the Syrian government spurned his plea with warplanes mounting the heaviest air strikes in months against rebel-held districts of the city of Aleppo overnight, burying any hope for the revival of a doomed ceasefire. RIA cited Ryabkov as explaining why Moscow had rejected Jackass’ idea, citing him as saying:
This plan won’t work. At least not until such time as not just Pindostan but also other players in this process … have ensured that those groups who remain convinced that war is the only way of resolving the problem and that violence is the only way of toppling Assad embrace the non-use of force.
Ryabkov said that Lavrov and Jackass would continue discussing Syria at the UN on Thursday.
Warplanes hit Aleppo in heaviest attack in months, defy Pindostan
Tom Perry, Ellen Francis, Reuters, Sep 22 2016
BEIRUT – Warplanes mounted the heaviest air strikes in months against rebel-held districts of the city of Aleppo overnight, as Russia and the Syrian government spurned a Pindo plea to halt flights, burying any hope for the revival of a doomed ceasefire. Rebel officials and rescue workers said incendiary bombs were among the weapons that rained from the sky on the city. Hamza al-Khatib, the director of a hospital in the rebel-held east, told Reuters the death toll was 45. Ammar al-Selmo, the head of the civil defence rescue service in opposition-held eastern Aleppo told Reuters:
It’s as if the planes are trying to compensate for all the days they didn’t drop bombs. It was like there was coordination between the planes and the artillery shelling, because the shells were hitting the same locations that the planes hit.
The assault, by aircraft from the Syrian government, its Russian allies or both, made clear that Moscow and Damascus had rejected a plea by Jackass Kerry to halt flights so that aid could be delivered and a ceasefire salvaged. In a tense televised exchange with Sergei Lavrov at the UN on Wednesday, Jackass said stopping the bombardment was the last chance to find a way out of the “carnage.” Moscow and Washington announced the ceasefire two weeks ago with great fanfare. But the agreement, probably the final bid for a breakthrough on Syria before Obama leaves office next year, appears to have suffered the same fate as all other doomed peace efforts in a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians and made half the nation homeless. The truce foundered on Monday with an attack on an aid convoy, which Washington blamed on Russian warplanes. Russia denied involvement. Prior to that, tensions between Washington and Moscow spiked over a lethal air strike on Syrian government troops by the Pindo-led coalition. There was no immediate comment from the Syrian military or mention on state media of Thursday’s bombardment of Aleppo. Rami Abd’ul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:
It was the heaviest air strikes for months inside Aleppo city.
A senior official in the Levant Front, an Aleppo-based rebel group, told Reuters:
The Russians only want surrender. They have no other solution.
In another sign of the Syrian government’s determination to press on with seizing and holding territory, it evacuated more rebel fighters from the last opposition-held district of Homs, which would complete the government’s recapture of the central city, now largely reduced to ruins. Assad succeeded this summer in fully encicling the opposition-held eastern areas of Aleppo this year, fully encircling them this summer. Capturing the rebel-held half of Syria’s largest city would be the biggest victory of the war for the government. The UN announced that it was resuming aid deliveries to rebel-held areas on Thursday following a 48-hour suspension to review security guarantees after Monday’s attack on an aid convoy near Aleppo that killed around 20 people. Jens Laerke, spokesman of the UN OCHA told Reuters:
We are sending today an inter-agency convoy that will cross conflict lines into a besieged area of rural Damascus.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for a temporary halt to all military flights, saying:
If the ceasefire is to stand any chance, the only path is a temporary, but complete ban of all military aircraft movement in Syria, for at least three days, better would be seven days.
But the president of Iran on Wednesday dismissed that idea, saying it would help Daesh & Nusra.
Jackass: Assad’s claims are ‘ridiculous’
AP, Sep 22 2016
BEIRUT — The State Dept’s spox has dismissed claims made by Assad during an interview with AP as “ridiculous,” adding they show that Assad has lost his legitimacy to govern. In the interview, Assad tells AP that Pindostan deliberately targeted Syrian government soldiers in an airstrike that killed dozens. Pindostan has said the strike was accidental and they had intended to target Daesh. Assad says that Pindostan lacks “the will” to join forces with Russia in fighting extremists. State Dept spox Adm Kirby says:
It’s difficult to see how these ridiculous claims deserve a response, except to say they prove yet again the degree to which Assad has lost his legitimacy to govern.