Washington (AFP): US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia on Wednesday that seizing the city of Aleppo will not help end the Syrian civil war and may further radicalize opposition forces.
Speaking as officials from the US, Russia and Syria’s neighbors met in Geneva to seek ways to restore a ceasefire in the civil war, Kerry said Russia’s bombardment of rebel-held areas was a mistake.
Moscow argues that it is supporting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad against Al-Qaeda-linked “terrorists” and blames Washington for failing to separate moderate rebels from the hardliners.
But, speaking in Washington after talks with his South Korean counterpart, Kerry said: “Every bomb that’s dropped by Russia and the Assad regime is radicalizing more and more people.”
After the collapse last month of a short-lived US and Russian-brokered truce, the Syrian regime launched a major offensive against the rebel-held districts of eastern Aleppo, home to an estimated 250,000 civilians.
“If Russia and Assad succeed in taking Aleppo, the fundamental dynamic of this war does not change,” Kerry said, warning Russia to recommit to the search for a viable ceasefire deal.
“If you don’t have a political settlement you can’t have peace and so Russia needs to understand this is not making things better, it’s making things worse.
“And we have put on the table an opportunity for Russia to make a different choice, a simple choice,” he continued.
If Russia halts its own bombing and orders Assad to halt his offensive, Kerry argued, then international powers can work with moderates on the ground to isolate extremists.