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Iran Press TV

Kerry urges Russia to change targets in Syria

Iran Press TV

Sat Feb 13, 2016 2:18PM

US Secretary of State John Kerry calls on Russia to change its military targets in Syria and reiterates sanctions threat over Ukraine.

'To date, the vast majority of Russia's attacks have been against legitimate opposition groups,' Kerry said of Moscow's airstrikes in support of Syrian forces.

'To adhere to the agreement it made, we think it is critical that Russia's targeting change,' he added during a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

The comments come a day after Kerry stated that the United States and Russia had agreed to implement nationwide cessation of hostilities in Syria, noting that all members of the International Syria Support Group agree that peace talks in Geneva should resume "as soon as possible."

'There's a lot of work to do before an effective cessation can commence,' said Kerry, whose country together with Russia co-chairs a UN task force meant to find ways toward a durable cessation of violence.

'There is no way to adequately deal with the cessation of hostilities unless we do sit down and work together on every aspect of this, from the political to the humanitarian to the military also. And we are doing that now.'

Kerry cautioned that 'we are not approaching this with some sense of pie-in-the-sky hope'.

In talks with Russia, he said, 'we will work through where this targeting should take place, where it shouldn't, how we work together in order to be effective so we don't drive people away from the table."

The senior US official warned that if the international community and Syria miss the opportunity to end the mayhem in the Arab country, terrorist activities will increase around the world.

Kerry said that Washington welcomes efforts by countries that have resolved to defeat Daesh (ISIL) in the Middle East.

Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since 2011, which has claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people so far, according to the United Nations.

Russia Sanctions

Also on Saturday, the top US diplomat made reference to sanctions on Russia over what Washington calls Moscow's involvement in east Ukraine violence.

Kerry said sanctions against Russia will continue as long as Moscow does not implement all aspects of a Ukraine peace agreement reached in Minsk, Belarus, last year.

He further urged the European governments to sustain the sanctions for as long as they are needed.

More than 9,000 people have been killed in Ukraine's Russian-speaking provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk since the conflict between pro-Russians and Kiev started in April 2014.

The United States and its European allies have imposed a number of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures. Moscow has retaliated with sanctions of its own.

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