Secretary of State John Kerry sought to end the confusion and criticism of the U.S.-Russian ceasefire agreement on Syria on Wednesday citing that if the ceasefire wasn’t agreed upon, violence would increase exponentially with many more Syrians being massacred or forced to leave the country.
Despite remarks from the State Department spokesman, John Kirby, on Mr. Kerry being “incorrect” in his assertion that United States and Russia could give President Bashar al-Assad the green light to launch air strikes against al-Qaeda linked militants, he further reaffirmed the United States position on the U.S.-Russian ceasefire deal on Syria.
In an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition, Mr. Kerry said,
“It’s a last chance to be able to hold Syria together. If you fail to get a cessation in place now and we cannot get to the table, then the fighting is going to increase significantly. What’s the alternative? The alternative is to allow us to go from 450,000 people who have been slaughtered to how many thousands more? That Aleppo gets completely overrun? That the Russians and Assad simply bomb indiscriminately for days to come and we sit there and do nothing?”
Senior U.S. military and intelligence officials have voiced deep concerns over the plan stating it would share sensitive military-related intelligence on the targeting of militants with the Russian forces. Their concerns were met with Mr. Kerry stating that the agreement now has President Obama’s support. He said,
“Well, the president of the United States is ready and I think the military therefore will be ready. Nobody’s asking people to abrogate our standards, but it is important for us to keep our part of the bargain.”
This is in direct contrast to what the Obama administration had mandated only a few years ago in regards to Syria and President Bashar al-Assad. The United States contended that Assad was using chemical weapons against his own people and Obama had approved arming the Syrian rebels in a move to counter Assad’s forces. This in turn started the war of words between Assad and Obama as accusations started to fly over proving the use of chemical weapons. In May of this year, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a veiled threat to Assad if he didn’t adhere to the ceasefire,
The Syrian rebels who are backed by the United States and Gulf allies have been losing ground to Russian-backed forces, according to Mr. Kerry:
“The dynamic of Assad hammering them and Russia hammering them is going to drive them into the hands of Nusra and ISIL and you’ll have a greater degree of radicalization of increased intensity.”
According to senior State Department officials, 24 hours after the ceasefire agreement, there was a reduction in violence due in part to all groups involved had to abide by the agreement. That agreement has changed in regards to President Bashar al-Assad stepping down – the original agreement was Assad was to remove himself from power; that is no longer the case as the United States now agrees with Russia to keep Assad in power.