Despite growing criticism from the United States, Russian diplomats said Thursday that the country will continue to assist the Syrian government in its assault on rebel strongholds, particularly in the city of Aleppo.
In a swipe at the U.S. role in the region, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia's “war on terror” would continue. Russia is providing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with critical support in the joint assault on the city of Aleppo, where heavy fighting and airstrikes have been taking place for months.
The U.S. has grown increasingly frustrated with Russia and the Syrian Arab Republic is considering tougher responses. The U.S. says that both Russia and the Syrian government have blood on their hands and are not facilitating peace. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has demanded that Russia grounds its aircraft and has threatened to cut diplomacy with Russia over Syria.
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U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that Russia has a vested interest in stopping the violence in Syria because extremists could use the ensuing power vacuum to launch attacks “against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.” Peskov dismissed the comments as clumsy and unhelpful, saying that Russia was interested in trying to resolve the continuing crisis.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov went a step further, referring to Kirby’s comments as “thinly disguised invitations to use terrorism as a weapon against Russia show(ing) the political depths the current U.S. administration has stooped to in its approach to the Middle East and specifically to Syria."
"We cannot interpret this as anything else apart from the current U.S. administration's de facto support for terrorism," said Ryabkov, who explained that Russia had no alternative to the original U.S. plan of a ceasefire. Ryabkov also said that Russia would support a 48-hour ceasefire to allow aid into Aleppo, but said that any longer would allow rebel troops in the region to regroup.
On Sept. 19, the ceasefire collapsed following a number of incidents including the bombing of an aid convoy. Both Russia and the U.S. have continually blamed each other for the ceasefires breakdown. Syria has also blamed the U.S., along with Israel, for being “complicit” with terrorist organizations and condemned recent airstrikes by U.S. forces.