U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest meeting with Russia over a potential ceasefire in Syria only resulted in an agreement to continue talking.
The meeting itself is remarkable, given that the U.S. announced it would suspend bilateral talks with Russia over Syria on October 3. The announcement came after Russia and Syria consistently broke a U.S. brokered ceasefire agreement and began bombing the city of Aleppo indiscriminately. Russia derided the decision, saying Kerry’s threat not talk to them amounted to an “emotional breakdown.”
Kerry’s threat did not even last 48 hours. The Russian foreign ministry confirmed Kerry called his Russian counterpart on October 5 to discuss geopolitical matters, including Syria. The latest meeting between Kerry and his Russian counterpart may be a renewed effort by the U.S. to secure another ceasefire agreement, despite the last two resulting in failure.
Kerry is reportedly responding to resounding international pressure to alleviate the Russian and Syrian bombing of the city of Aleppo. Human rights activists note that the airstrikes are killing dozens of people per day. Kerry said he was spurred to action by “the urgency of trying to find something that works other than military action.”
Russia and Syria appear unlikely to agree to another ceasefire and ready to prepare for an all out assault on the city of Aleppo. Iran reportedly sent thousands of fighters to shore up Assad’s forces in early October for the approaching assault on Aleppo. These forces are now encircling the city, likely preparing for a ground assault on the rebel held area of the city.
Aleppo has become a last stand for the mainstream Syrian opposition, which derives legitimacy from its control, and will lose its biggest bargaining chip if it is driven out. Russia is abandoning all pretenses and is reportedly using bunker busting bombs on civilian populations, wiping out hospitals, and killing civilians.
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