(UR) Washington, D.C. — Secretary of State John Kerry expressed “grave concern over the deteriorating situation in Syria” via phone call to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, as well as a willingness to “suspend”U.S.-Russian cooperation in the country if Russia doesn’t halt its bombing campaign in Aleppo, reports the Associated Press.
The State Department issued a press release regarding the communication on Wednesday, with spokesman John Kirby stating:
“The Secretary stressed that the burden remains on Russia to stop this assault and allow humanitarian access to Aleppo and other areas in need. He informed the Foreign Minister that the United States is making preparations to suspend U.S.-Russia bilateral engagement on Syria — including on the establishment of the Joint Implementation Center — unless Russia takes immediate steps to end the assault on Aleppo and restore the cessation of hostilities.”
As Underground Reporter has extensively covered, the conflict in Syria has seen an escalation in violence in recent weeks, as a ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia collapsed, and a new campaign against the U.S.-backed rebels in Aleppo was launched by the Russian-supported Syrian military.
Secretary Kerry’s comments directly preceded reports of two hospitals in Aleppo being “bombed out of service” by forces loyal to Assad. The news fits perfectly into the latest mainstream media narrative — Russia and the Syrians are effectively committing war crimes in Aleppo — as The Guardian pointed out on Wednesday:
“Airstrikes by forces loyal to the Syrian government have bombed out of service the two largest hospitals in besieged Eastern Aleppo, which serve a quarter of a million civilians, in what doctors have described as a catastrophic campaign that is testing the conscience of the world.”
Even the United Nations has contributed to the narrative, with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently saying of Russia’s actions in Syria:
“Those using ever more destructive weapons know exactly (what) they are doing. They know they are committing war crimes. Imagine the destruction. People with their limbs blown off, children in terrible pain with no relief…Imagine a slaughterhouse. This is worse. Even a slaughterhouse is more humane.”
This is in line with comments made earlier this week by U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, who equated the Russian-backed Syrian military’s recent moves in Aleppo to “barbarism.”
And while feelings about the Syrian conflict may differ, one could be forgiven for finding hypocrisy in such allegations being lodged by the United States — who, itself, has been accused of war crimes for bombing hospitals and civilian infrastructure within Syria.
Additionally, the U.S. currently supports two countries — Israel and Saudi Arabia — who’ve been accused by human rights groups and international bodies alike of committing war crimes in Palestine and Yemen, respectively.
The recent uptick in violence in Syria — not to mention all the hurled accusations — has caused some analysts to step back and look at the Syrian conflict on the whole. As Mark Kramer, program director for the Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard, recently told Business Insider:
“It is obvious by now that US-Russian cooperation over Syria is impractical because the objectives of the two sides are fundamentally divergent. Temporary ceasefires have proved to be mostly illusory because Russia has no intention of pressuring Assad to make concessions.”
“Russian officials are not going to change what they are doing simply because the United States decries it,” Kramer added. “In the 1990s, the Russian government cared what Western governments thought, but that era is long over.”
This sentiment was echoed by Gianni Riotta of the Council on Foreign Relations, who wrote on Wednesday the recent “shouting match” between Russia and the U.S. is on par with “the worst episodes of the Cold War,” and that no one “should expect Putin to stop bombing Aleppo — civilians or rebels. He is playing a bloody chess game, and Syria is just a pawn.”
Indeed, given Secretary Kerry’s threat to leave the negotiating table if the Aleppo campaign doesn’t end — and the likelihood that Russia has no intention of halting said campaign — Business Insider may soon be proven correct in its latest analysis on Syria:
“In fact, walking away from the deal at this point may serve as a signal to Russia that the US is washing its hands of the conflict, decisively forfeiting the country to Moscow as a Russian sphere of influence.”
Or, as independent journalist and Syria expert Emma Beals recently summarized:
“The end of the war in Syria will not be just, and it’s unlikely to be peaceful. But it will be the Russians who end the war — at this point, they are the only ones who can.”
This article (Syrian Conflict Is Now a ‘Bloody Chess Game’ Only Russia Can End, Analysts Say) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to James Holbrooks and UndergroundReporter.org. If you spot a typo, please email the error and the name of the article to firstname.lastname@example.org. Image credit: U.S. Dept. of State.