Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the United States and Russia could give President Bashar al-Assad the green light to launch air strikes against al-Qaeda linked militants. Mr. Kerry’s remarks were promptly met with an immediate reversal from the State Department’s spokesman, John Kirby, who said Mr. Kerry was “incorrect” in his remarks about the air strikes.
Regarding Assad’s forces, John Kerry said,
“Assad is not supposed to be bombing the opposition, because there is a cease-fire. Now he is allowed … to target Nusra. But that will be on strikes that are agreed upon with Russia and the United States in order to go after them.”
If the ceasefire truce holds for seven days, the United States and Russia would discuss a joint operation to combat Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly al Nusra), a branch of al-Qaeda and discuss approving Syrian combat missions against the group as well.
State Department Spokesman, John Kirby, said that the United States made no authorizations for Syrian air strike launches in the truce brokered between the U.S. and Russia. He said,
“This is not something we could ever envision doing. [The] primary purpose of this agreement, from our perspective, is to prevent the Syrian regime air force from flying or striking in any areas in which the opposition or Nusra are present. [Coordinating] military action [is] between the U.S. and Russia, not for any other party.”
John Kerry pleaded with all of the warring sides to adhere to the ceasefire; a request that likely will fall on deaf ears. The Syrian city of Aleppo, where the fighting is the heaviest, has experienced chemical weapon attacks by ISIS, barrel bombs, and napalm-type bombs. The number of civilian casualties in Aleppo alone number in the thousands with the Kurds suffering the greatest loss of life – this as the city continues to be razed in between the brief lulls in fighting.