GOP chairman: Kerry's Syria cease-fire 'just words on paper'

GOP chairman: Kerry's Syria cease-fire 'just words on paper'
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is downplaying the impact of a Syrian cease-fire deal, calling it "just words on paper."

"As [Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryAs Congress adjusts to Trump, Iran put under the pressure it deserves Sharpton pressures Dems on Trump nominees Words are not enough — US must support Christians who survived genocide in Iraq MORE] said, these are just words on paper. That was his quote, and I concur," Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) told reporters at a roundtable on Friday.

"These are just words on paper, the fact that it's going to be a whole week until we're even going to see deployment of this cease-fire," he added.

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Royce's comments come a day after members of the International Syria Support Group in Munich, Germany agreed on a plan for a "cessation of hostilities" in the Syrian Civil War.

The temporary cease-fire, slated to begin in a week, would apply to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, his allies Russia and Iran, and the Western-backed moderate rebel groups they are fighting.

Russia in recent weeks has stepped up its airstrikes in Aleppo province, besieging tens of thousands of civilians in rebel-held areas in the city of Aleppo.

Royce said he doubted Russia's sincerity in wanting a cease-fire.

"I get reports every morning in terms of the Russian bombing of Aleppo, the targeting is not on fighters, they're targeting the majority, the targeting is on market places, it's included everything from hospitals to schools. It's principally civilian targeting, and there are 300,000 to 400,000 people trapped in Aleppo right now.

"The cease-fire, if they were serious, would have gone into effect right now," he added. 

The ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), said he is also skeptical of the motives of Russia and Syria, but would keep an open mind. 

"I support efforts that have a chance of stopping the violence and bloodshed in Syria," he said in a statement.

"I am strongly skeptical that the Russians and the Assad regime are acting in good faith, but I will certainly keep an open mind.”

- This story was updated at 12:58 p.m.