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US holds Russia and Assad responsible for Syria crisis

February 5, 2016 at 11:25 am

America holds the Assad regime and Russia responsible for the ongoing crisis in Syria, a senior US official said yesterday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “We have long expressed our deep concerns about the way in which the Assad regime has continued to target innocent populations in opposition-held areas inside of Syria.”

“And that’s been a sticking point in the talks. It’s been, understandably, a source of significant concern that’s been expressed by opposition representatives in these talks. And those concerns are well-founded. And we hold the Assad regime primarily responsible for that.”

US State Department spokesman John Kirby also stated that Washington “would like to see Russian military activity in Syria be dedicated and focused exclusively on Daesh, and not on the opposition groups.”

“We’re certainly seeing at least in the very recent past, you know, discordant messages,” he said. This is in reference to Russia’s claims that it wants to see a political process move forward and a ceasefire but it continues to support Assad in bombing civilians.

According to the Syrian National Coalition, more than 1,730 civilians have been killed since Russia began airstrikes in Syria in late September.

Kirby added that US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov discussed the Geneva talks during a phone call on Wednesday night, in which Lavrov “reaffirmed the importance of finding a political solution to this conflict and to working towards a ceasefire.”

The Geneva talks, sponsored by the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, were temporarily suspended on Wednesday and are expected to resume on 25 February due to intensified fighting in the country.

In his response to claims that Saudi Arabia has expressed its willingness to join the international alliance to fight Daesh in Syria by sending ground forces, Kirby said that he had no knowledge of these claims, but said that the US wants its partners in the alliance to look for ways to do more and contribute more.

During an interview with Al-Arabiya TV yesterday evening, Saudi military spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Al-Asiri said Riyadh “is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition may agree to carry out in Syria.”