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Russians Offer 72-Hour Cease Fire Extension in Syria, Despite Lack of Cooperation From U.S.

Sept. 16, 2016 (EIRNS)—In numerous statements issued today, Russian military officials repeatedly exposed the failure of the U.S. Administration to cooperate in implementing the ceasefire in Syria that began on Sept. 12. Despite this reality, those same Russian officials also expressed their willingness to extend the cease fire yet another 72 hours.

The major sticking point between the US and Russia remains the same—the separation of the so-called moderate opposition groups from the group formerly known as the Al Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al Nusra, which now calls itself Jabhat Fateh Al Sham. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in another phone call with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, stressed this very point again today.

"Lavrov drew attention to the violation of the regime of cessation of hostilities by illegal armed groups and called on Washington to waste no time to implement its promise to separate units of the moderate opposition from Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups not covered by the ceasefire,"

the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"He noted that the list of groups signing agreements on ceasefire observance that was received from the U.S. side has a number of openly terrorist groups having close contacts with Jabhat al-Nusra."

The statement further reported that Kerry’s problematic efforts to speed up resolution of the problems stemming from armed groups, threatens not to let humanitarian cargoes to Aleppo.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported earlier in the day that the United States had finally supplied data on U.S.-backed groups in Aleppo but that the data, as supplied, was hardly sufficient, in that it proved that no separation of "moderate opposition" from the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group had been done. Lt. Gen. Vladimir Savchenko, the chief of the Russian reconciliation center in Latakia, charged today, that Syria’s "moderate opposition" was using the regime of cessation of activities to regroup its forces.

He reported that there were a total of 39 ceasefire violations over the previous 24 hours. This compares to 45 on Wednesday, 37 on Tuesday and 23 on Monday, the first day of the ceasefire. About half of the violations each day are in Aleppo, including targeting of the Castello road, the main route by which humanitarian relief supplies are to be brought into the city. Savchenko further reported that the rebel groups have not pulled back from the Castello Road, even though Syrian government forces have, while at the same time, the US military is not responding to Russian notifications of the cease fire violations.

The Russians are nonetheless pushing forward with the cease fire effort, to include reconciliation among armed groups and the government on the ground, and the effort to set the political conditions for the resumption of the peace talks in Geneva. The Russian reconciliation center in Latakia, Syria reported today, that four more settlements had signed reconciliation agreements, today, bringing the total to 623. In New York, Russia’s UN Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said yesterday, that he believes that the UN Security Council should adopt a resolution confirming the cease fire agreement on Sept. 21.

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