The U.S. suspended all bilateral contact with Russia over Syria Monday, amid continued Russian bombardment of Aleppo despite a U.S. ultimatum Wednesday.
The U.S. Department of State cited Russia’s reneging of its ceasefire commitments in September, its role in denying humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo, and its indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations throughout Syria.
The move marks a likely definitive end to any U.S. hope of a negotiated ceasefire to stem the carnage in Syria. Kerry’s brokered ceasefire collapsed in mid-Septemebr amid consistent violations by Russia and the Assad regime. The regime and Russia culminated the ceasefire by unilaterally declaring it over, and likely bombing a UN humanitarian aid convoy bound for rebel-held Aleppo.
Russia and Syria have both begun using heavy weaponary on civilian populations in Aleppo, in an attempt to accelerate the siege of the city. Reports indicate Russia is using bunker busting and cluster munitions, which killed 100 children in the first five days of their new use. Russia’s bombardment is merely preparing the city for a likely ground assault.
Kerry reportedly told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Sept. 28 the U.S. would “suspend U.S.-Russia bilateral engagement on Syria,” unless “Russia takes immediate steps to end the assault on Aleppo” and restore a ceasefire. A senior Russian official scoffed at Kerry’s threat Friday saying it amounted to an “emotional breakdown.”
Assad and his Shiite Iranian allies have amassed nearly 6,000 fighters around rebel-held Aleppo, for a bloody street by street assault. The regime’s bombardment and ground deployment, signal its intention to continue pursuing a military victory over rebel groups in Syria. The U.S. has consistently touted the line that a military victory by either side is not possible, and thus encouraged a negotiated solution.
Aleppo is the last remaining large city inside Syria the Assad regime does not maintain definitive control over. Assad derives legitimacy from his control of metropolitan areas, and believes he can negotiate from a larger position of strength by controlling Aleppo and its 200,000 people.
The last remaining hospitals were wiped out by Russian or Syrian bombs Wednesday. Save the Children, an international non-governmental organization told The New York Times Tuesday children were “dying on the floors of hospitals” for want of medical supplies.
After the bombing, there is no hospital floor for them to die on.
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