The Latest: US says Russia not abiding by Syria deal

AP News
Posted: Sep 26, 2016 2:36 PM
The Latest: US says Russia not abiding by Syria deal

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):

9:40 p.m.

The White House says it's difficult to envision any military cooperation with Russia in Syria because Moscow has repeatedly failed to fulfill its commitments to a recent cease-fire deal.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the situation in the city of Aleppo got even worse over the weekend.

He says Syria's government has launched a "concerted campaign" to strike civilian targets, and that President Bashar Assad's forces are trying "to bomb civilians into submission."

He says government forces have also targeted the Civil Defense, volunteer first responders also known as White Helmets.

Aleppo residents and U.N. officials have described a wave of airstrikes on rebel-held areas in recent days as the worst of the 5 ½-year war.


9:30 p.m.

Syrian President Bashar Assad's media adviser says the United States should publicly apologize for an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition that killed dozens of Syrian soldiers.

Bouthaina Shaaban told the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV Monday night that an apology has been conveyed to the Syrians but not through official channels.

A senior Obama administration official said the United States has "relayed our regret" for the unintentional loss of life of Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group. The official says the notification was sent through Russia.

But Shaaban says "we want a public apology and we want this issue not to be repeated," adding: "Lives were lost."

The Sept. 17 airstrikes on Syrian army positions in eastern Syria involved Australian, British and Danish warplanes. The Russians said 62 Syrian soldiers were killed.

The U.S. military says the airstrikes were aimed at IS, which was fighting in the area.


6:45 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the Syrian and Russian governments "seem intent on taking Aleppo and destroying it in the process."

Kerry said Monday that "while they're pounding Aleppo, dropping indiscriminate bombs, killing women and children, talk of a unity government is pretty complicated."

The northern city of Aleppo, split between government forces and rebels, has seen heavy fighting in recent days as a cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia has all but collapsed.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said in a TV interview Monday that President Bashar Assad's administration is prepared to take part in a unity government, incorporating elements from the opposition. It's an offer his opponents have rejected in the past.

Kerry said he thinks the Syrian opposition won't be "particularly excited about having a negotiation when they're being bombed and starved."

He said statements by the Syrian government are "almost meaningless."

Kerry spoke to reporters in Cartagena, ahead of the signing of Colombia's long-awaited peace deal.


3 p.m.

A Syrian official says a second round of rebel evacuations from the central city of Homs is underway.

Homs governor Talal Barazi says 120 gunmen and their families are expected to depart al-Waer neighborhood by bus as part of an arrangement to restore government authority over the rebellious district.

The government is permitting food and medical assistance to enter the besieged neighborhood in exchange for the evacuations.

An earlier group of more than 100 fighters and their families were evacuated from the neighborhood last week. A Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy of 36 trucks delivered assistance for 4,000 families in the district on Saturday.

Al-Waer is the last neighborhood with a significant rebel presence in Homs, which was a focal point of the 2011 protests against President Bashar Assad.

Some 75,000 people still live in Al-Waer, down from 300,000 before the start of the Syrian uprising in 2011. Pro-government forces have besieged the neighborhood since 2013.


1:30 p.m.

The spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin says the troubled cease-fire in Syria is ineffective, but that Moscow is not losing hope for a political solution to the country's crisis.

However, Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday that the Kremlin is concerned that "terrorists are using the cease-fire regime to regroup, to replenish their arsenals and for obvious preparations to carry out attacks."

Peskov also took issue with harsh criticism by the United States and Great Britain over Russia's actions in Syria.

He said Russia considers the tone of the criticism unacceptable and "such rhetoric is capable of causing serious harm to the resolution process" in Syria.


12:15 p.m.

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem says a U.S.-Russia-brokered cease-fire agreement is still viable and says his administration is prepared to take part in a unity government.

In an interview broadcast on the Mayadeen TV channel Monday, al-Moallem accused the U.S., Britain, and France of convening a U.N. Security Council meeting a day earlier in order to support "terrorists" inside Syria. But he said ongoing communications between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meant a truce agreement brokered two weeks ago is "not dead."

Syria's military declared the cease-fire ended one week ago.

Al-Moallem reaffirmed his government's proposed roadmap to end Syria's war, saying Damascus would support a referendum on a new constitution followed by parliamentary elections and the formation of a unity government.