Kerry Blasts Russia for 'Irresponsible' Decision to Back Syria's Assad

'We are not giving up on the Syrian people,' says John Kerry, adding that America's strategy includes grounding Syrian and Russian aircraft in specific areas.

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at an event in Brussels, October 4, 2016.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at an event in Brussels, October 4, 2016. Credit: Geert Vanden Wijngaert, AP

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Russia on Tuesday for its "irresponsible and profoundly ill-advised decision" to back Syrian President Bashar Assad and said efforts to end the war in Syria must continue, in spite of the U.S. decision to break off talks with Moscow.

"I want to be clear that we are not giving up on the Syrian people and we are not abandoning the pursuit of peace," Kerry said in a speech in Brussels. "We will continue to pursue a meaningful, sustainable, enforceable cessation of hostilities throughout the country — and that includes the grounding of Syrian and Russian combat aircraft in designated areas."

The United States broke off talks with Russia on Monday on implementing a ceasefire agreement in Syria, accusing Moscow of not living up to its commitments under the deal to halt fighting and ensure aid reached besieged communities.

Kerry said the United States would work to create conditions for a resumption of peace talks and added that Russia and Syria "know exactly what they need to do."

A boy collects items amid the rubble of destroyed buildings following airstrikes on the rebel-held town of Douma near Damascus, Syria, October 3, 2016.Credit: Abd Doumany, AFP

He charged that Russia had "turned a blind eye" to Assad's "deplorable" use of chlorine gas and barrel bombs and suggested they were pursing a scorched earth policy in place of diplomacy.

"Where they make a desert, they call it peace," he said, quoting the Roman historian Tacitus. He said if Russia was serious about peace, it would have to behave differently than it was now in Syria. 

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