Syrian Military Declares US-Russian Negotiated Cease-Fire Over
By VOA News September 19, 2016
Syria's military command has declared the U.S.-Russian negotiated cease-fire over, blaming the country's rebel groups for undermining the agreement.
The Syrian military says "armed terrorist groups" repeatedly violated the cease-fire that came into effect last week and used it to mobilize and arm, while attacking government-held areas. It said the rebels wasted a "real chance'' to stop the bloodshed and did not indicate whether the truce would be reinstated.
Activists and rebel groups also accuse the government of violating the cease-fire.
The United Nations said the Syrian government had obstructed the delivery of aid, a key component of the deal.
The U.N. emergency relief coordinator says he is "pained and disappointed" convoys have not reached Aleppo where as many as 275,000 people are in need of food, water and medical aid.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, humanitarian aid deliveries were expected to reach civilians in eight or more locations in Syria.
U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O'Brien reiterated the world body's demands that it be allowed unimpeded access to deliver supplies and evacuate those in need of critical medical attention.
"The people of Syria have suffered long enough. Millions of Syrian civilians continue to face horrific deprivation and violence, especially those trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas," O'Brien said in a statement.
Humanitarian deliveries to Aleppo were one prong of a cease-fire deal reached between the United States and Russia on September 9.
Kerry blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government Sunday for blocking aid deliveries and said Russia must do more to put pressure on him.
Assad needs to respect the cease-fire and "let the joint implementation center get set up so Russia and the United States can coordinate in order to avoid the kind of terrible thing that happened yesterday that we all acknowledge and regret."
Kerry was referring to the deadly U.S.-led airstrike Saturday that killed dozens of Syrian soldiers. The U.S. military said it may have unintentionally hit the Syrian soldiers while targeting Islamic State fighters in eastern Syria.
Assad said U.S.-led coalition airstrikes which hit Syrian army positions near Deir al-Zor Saturday were a "flagrant aggression," according to Syrian state media. The incident showed an "increase in support for terrorists by countries opposing Syria," he was quoted as saying.
Russia's defense ministry said rebel violations made it "pointless" for government troops to uphold the truce.
The U.S.-Russian cease-fire agreement for Syria "remains the only hope to resolve the conflict, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said earlier Monday.
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