US and Russia to seek peace in Syria separately

An injured Syrian man receiving treatment at a makeshift hospital on Monday, following reported air strikes in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern outskirts of the capital Damascus.
An injured Syrian man receiving treatment at a makeshift hospital on Monday, following reported air strikes in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern outskirts of the capital Damascus. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • The United States and Russia have vowed to separately pursue peace in Syria, despite the collapse of joint efforts to end the war.

And Germany will host a European meeting today that has the aim of finding a political solution to the turmoil.

Russian news agencies yesterday cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying that Russia will continue to make efforts on resolving the Syria crisis despite the US suspending cooperation with Russia on a ceasefire in Syria.

Meanwhile US Secretary of State John Kerry, who criticised Russia yesterday for its "irresponsible and profoundly ill-advised decision" to back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said efforts to end the war must continue, in spite of his government's decision to pull out of direct 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," Mr 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 a deal to halt fighting and ensure aid reached besieged communities.

Germany's foreign ministry said yesterday that senior officials from the US, Britain, France, Italy and Germany would meet todayto try to find a political solution to the Syria conflict.

The ministry confirmed a story in the Tagesspiegel daily which said that in a difficult situation, the goal is to look for suggestions on how to stem the violence in Syria and return to a political process - citing a source close to the foreign minister.

Just a month ago, it appeared that Mr Kerry was on the verge of securing the long-sought cooperation of Russia through an agreement with Mr Lavrov for a reduction of violence, access to humanitarian aid and the joint targeting of militant groups.

But the agreement quickly began to fray - first because of the accidental bombing of Syrian troops by the US-led coalition and then because of what the US claimed was a deliberate bombing by Russian aircraft and Syrian helicopters of a humanitarian convoy.

Syrian regime forces advanced against rebels during intense street battles in the heart of Aleppo yesterday, following up bombardment of the eastern quarters that killed 13 people, including a child, on Monday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Syrian state news agency Sana reported that rebel shelling on the government-held west left six people dead yesterday.

NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2016, with the headline 'US and Russia to seek peace in Syria separately'. Print Edition | Subscribe