After suggesting the U.S. may cooperate with Syria under the newly brokered ceasefire agreement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was sharply rebuked by his own State Department Monday.
Kerry announced the ceasefire deal with Russian counterparts in Geneva Saturday morning. The agreement stipulates that beginning Monday morning, all parties in Syria will begin a “genuine reduction of violence,” for a period of one week. If the ceasefire holds for a week, then the U.S. will open a joint operations center with Russia meant to target the Islamic State and al-Qaida elements in Syria. There was no mention of any military cooperation between the U.S. and Syria at the announcement.
Kerry, bypassing the official terms of the ceasfire, told reporters Monday at the State Department that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad will be allowed to continue airstrikes on al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate. These things will supposedly only happen if “agreed upon with Russia and the United States in order to go after them,” Kerry added. Kerry’s comments were the first indication of any military cooperation with Syria, setting off alarm bells in Washington.
State Department Spokesman John Kirby immediately issued a statement affirming that what Kerry proposed “is not something we could ever envision doing.” Kirby went so far as to call Kerry’s comments “incorrect,” elaborating that the purpose of the ceasefire was to “coordinate military action between the U.S. and Russia, not for any other party.”
Minutes into the ceasefire’s implementation Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad reportedly violated the agreement. “It’s far too early to draw any definitive conclusions,” said Kerry defending the ceasefire. Despite the early violations, he told reporters that it may “take a day or two” for the ceasefire to be fully implemented.
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