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US accuses Assad, Russia of seeking military solution in Syria

Peace talks suspended and Kremlin vows to keep up its air campaign despite American, French condemnation

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, January 7, 2016. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, January 7, 2016. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Moscow and Damascus of seeking a military solution to the war in Syria rather than a political one Wednesday, after peace talks were suspended.

Kerry’s strongly worded remarks came hours after the peace talks were suspended and as the Kremlin, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, vowed there would be no let-up in its controversial air campaign.

“The continued assault by Syrian regime forces — enabled by Russian airstrikes — against opposition-held areas, as well as regime and allied militias’ continued besiegement of hundreds of thousands of civilians, have clearly signaled the intention to seek a military solution rather than enable a political one,” Kerry said in a statement.

The United States and France had earlier condemned the Russian bombing around Syria’s second city of Aleppo and Kerry again called for an immediate end to the bombardment.

“It is past time for them to meet existing obligations and restore the international community’s confidence in their intentions of supporting a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis,” Kerry said, addressing the Syrian regime “and its supporters.”

He added: “During this pause (in the talks), the world needs to push in one direction — toward stopping the oppression and suffering of the Syrian people and ending, not prolonging, this conflict.”

Backed by external powers embroiled in Syria’s war, the faltering peace negotiations are seeking to end a conflict that has killed more than 260,000 people and fueled the meteoric rise of the extremist Islamic State group.

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