March 01 by Scott Lucas – EAWORLDVIEW – Amid continuing reports of Russian and Assad regime violations of Syria’s ceasefire, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that the US is “digging” to see if there were any attacks on the opposition. “We are digging in through the process we set up to find out if in fact a violation did take place or was it in fact a legitimate engagement against [the jihadists of Jabhat al-] Nusra only or Daesh [the Islamic State] only,” Kerry saidat a press conference with German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmaier.
The US-Russian-brokered cessation of hostilities, which began early Saturday, allows attacks on Nusra and ISIS. Russia, which began bombing the Syrian opposition and rebels last September, and the Assad regime have also claimed that they can strike “other terrorist groups” as defined by the UN Security Council.
Russian and regime airstrikes have been reported on each day since the start of the cessation in areas controlled by the opposition, where there is no documented presence of Nusra and ISIS. Areas have included Idlib Province, including the main city of Jisr al-Shughour; Latakia Province; northern and western Aleppo Province; Homs Province; and Hama Province, including the town of Talbiseh.
There have also been ground assaults by the Syrian Army near Damascus and, covered by heavy artillery, on villages such as Hirbnafsah in Hama Province.
Scores have been killed in the attacks, including many civilians, according to the opposition-rebel High Negotiations Committee and the activists of the Local Coordination Committees.
On Monday, airstrikes and barrel bombings were reported near Jisr al-Shughour.
OPPOSITION: CEASEFIRE FACES “COMPLETE NULLIFICATION”
Kerry said, “We call on all the parties not to be looking for a way to get out from under the responsibility of the cessation of hostilities, but rather to help the process to hold itself accountable.”He also said he was concerned by reports that the Assad regime is creating obstacles for the delivery of humanitarian aid.Aid workers did make their first delivery since the ceasefire on Monday, with 10 trucks reaching the besieged opposition-held town of Moadamiya, southwest of Damascus.
On Monday, a senior official from the opposition-rebel HNC warned that the cessation faced “complete nullification” because of the Russian-regime violations.
But White House spokesman Josh Earnest played down the concerns:
We’re aware that there have been some reports of violations, some concerns that have been raised that is consistent with our expectations heading into this process, which is that we did anticipate that there would be reports of violations and that we would encounter some potholes on the road to implementing this successfully.And fortunately, there is a process in place for members of the international group responsible for monitoring the cessation of hostilities to examine these reports. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. www.mesop.de