Syria truce hopes dwindle as officials slam Moscow| MENAFN.COM

Wednesday, 17 August 2022 06:37 GMT

Syria truce hopes dwindle as officials slam Moscow

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Hopes of a successful truce and the speedy delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged areas of Syria dwindled yesterday as regime forces - backed by Russian airstrikes - pushed ahead with an offensive against rebels in the northern province of Aleppo.
US Senator John McCain, Riyad Hijab, chief negotiator for the Syrian opposition, and deputy UN chief Jan Eliasson were among diplomats and foreign policy experts to cast serious doubt on an agreement by world powers to implement a truce and deliver aid by next week.
"My scepticism rests simply on the nature of our adversaries' ambitions," McCain said at the Munich Security Conference, adding that President Vladimir Putin's Syrian intervention was an attempt to re-establish Russia as a major power by exacerbating the refugee crisis in order to divide Nato and undermine the European project.
"If Russia and the Assad regime violate this agreement, what are the consequences? I don't see any. Common sense will not end the conflict in Syria - it takes leverage," he said.
Hijab accused Moscow and Damascus of pursuing a "strategy of forced displacement", adding that neither party was invested in a truce.
The UN was still waiting for security guarantees that would allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged areas of Syria that world powers had scheduled for today.
The process is more complicated than expected, Eliasson told DPA on the sidelines of the conference.
"We need quick action from their side," he said, adding that aid convoys were ready to go but it was unclear when security assurances from Damascus would come.
Key players in the conflict were still trying to prop up hopes for a truce, with the Kremlin putting out a statement that a phone conversation between Putin and US President Barack Obama in the wake of the agreement had been "frank and constructive".
According to the Kremlin, Putin reiterated the importance of co-ordinating US and Russian military efforts in the fight against the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front militias, two groups which are exempted from the truce. Russia has insisted its air campaign only targets "terrorists."
The truce "requires opposition groups to stop fighting but it allows Russia to continue bombing 'terrorists,' which it insists is everyone, even civilians", McCain charged.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, pressed ahead yesterday with a major attack against the rebel-held towns of Anadan and Hreitan on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, according to activists.
Warplanes, believed to be Russian, unleashed a series of airstrikes yesterday on the rebel-controlled district of al-Qatrji in the city of Aleppo, the capital of the province of the same name, the Syrian observatory for Human Rights said.
Meanwhile, hostilities were continuing elsewhere on the ground.
Turkish forces shelled positions held by the Kurd-led Democratic Forces of Syria (DFS), a coalition linked to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in the northern and north-western parts of Aleppo province.

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