Kerry: Russia and Assad can end Syrian ‘massacre’ if they ‘negotiate constructively’

Francis Rivera

Secretary of State John Kerry called Thursday for the Russian-backed president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, to participate in constructive negotiations to end the “massacre” in the country.

“We have arrived now at another critical point,” Kerry said during a State Department briefing. “If Aleppo falls completely and people are slaughtered in that small area, it would be even harder to be able to bring people around, and it will not end the war.” 

“Provided we are able to stabilize the situation in Aleppo, it is essential that we move forward at the earliest possible moment, with a Syrian-led political process aimed at ending the war and transitioning to a new and more representative government,” he said.

{mosads}Kerry maintained that the all the parties involved in the conflict are ready to negotiate peace, with the exception of the Assad regime and the Russian forces.

“Only remaining question is whether the Syrian regime, with Russia’s support, is willing to go to Geneva, prepared to negotiate constructively, and whether or not they are willing to stop this slaughter of their own people,” he said.

“So we believe that this is a moment where the Syrian regime and the Russian military have an opportunity to make the decision — a strategic decision, I might add — for peace.”

Kerry also called for a joint international effort to pressure the parties into a meaningful negotiation process including the cessation of hostilities.

“It is imperative that key actors step up and do their part. And I call on the entire international community to join in exerting pressure on all parties to go forward with the process that has been laid out for some period of time now, to abide by cessation of hostilities and to bring the killing and the cruelty, particularly starting with Aleppo,” Kerry said.

The secretary of State also addressed the latest reports alleging that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. presidential election in order to help Donald Trump win the White House.

Kerry said he will not comment on the preliminary intelligence reports that were leaked to the press from anonymous officials, but added that President Obama warned the American people in October that the threat should be taken seriously. 

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