Kerry attacks Russia after Syria talks fail

Kerry attacks Russia after Syria talks fail
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Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryThe enemy of my enemy is my friend — an alliance that may save the Middle East Democratic governors fizzle in presidential race A lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair MORE on Tuesday harshly condemned Russian activity in Syria that he blamed for the dissolution of one-on-one talks but insisted that the U.S. was not abandoning hopes for peace in the five-year civil war.

“We have to persist in our effort to end the conflict in Syria,” a beleaguered Kerry said during a speech in Brussels.

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“I want to be very, very clear to everybody: We are not giving up on the Syrian people, we are not abandoning the pursuit of peace, we are not going to leave the multilateral field,” he said. “We are going to continue to try to find a way forward in order to try to end this war.”

Kerry’s comments on Tuesday are his first since the State Department pulled out of bilateral talks with Russia, following the crumbling of a peace deal that once offered brief hopes of a cease-fire.

On Monday, the Obama administration claimed that Russia was refusing to rein in Syrian President Bashar Assad, leading to escalated bloodshed and a humanitarian catastrophe in the city of Aleppo.  

The Kremlin has made an “irresponsible and profoundly ill-advised decision” to stick by Assad’s side, Kerry said Tuesday.

“Together, the Syrian regime and Russia seem to have rejected diplomacy in furtherance of trying to pursue a military victory, over the broken bodies, the bombed out hospitals, the traumatized children of a long-suffering land,” Kerry said. “People who are serious about making peace behave differently than the way Russia has chosen to behave.”

Russia, for its part, has blamed the U.S. for the breakdown of a tentative cease-fire over the last few weeks, claiming that Washington continues to support Islamic extremists among the anti-Assad rebels.

The Obama administration’s decision to pull the plug on talks with Russia was seen as an especially dispiriting low in its efforts to stem the chaos in Syria, which have so far been ineffective. The ongoing violence has left an estimated 400,000 people dead and created a political vacuum that allowed for the growth of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and other extremist organizations.

Despite pulling out of the talks, the U.S. will remain engaged at the United Nations and other international groups to push for an end to the war,

Kerry insisted American military forces will also remain in contact with Russia so that pilots from the two sides do not accidentally run into each other.

However, the violence now appears destined to outlast President Obama’s time in office and could be remembered as one of the darkest periods of his presidency.

“We will work to create the conditions that allow for the resumption of talks between the parties, but Russians and the regime know exactly what they need to do to live up to international law and to meet the agreements that they have already several times announced they would adhere to,” Kerry said.