News / Middle East

Kerry: Russia Enabling Syria's Pursuit of Military Path

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
VOA News
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Syrian government is trying to win a military victory over the opposition, and that Russia is enabling President Bashar al-Assad on that path.

Speaking Monday in Jakarta, Kerry said Syria's strategy is evident in its continuing barrel bombing of civilians, and that Russia's deliveries of arms and aid are helping Assad's pursuit of a military solution over a political end to the civil war.
 
"It is very clear that Bashar al-Assad is continuing to try to win this in the battlefield rather than to come to the negotiating table in good faith," said Kerry.

VOA correspondent Scott Stearns, who is traveling with Kerry, said the secretary wants the international community to use a break in the talks to figure out how best to pursue a political solution.

"He said the United States still believes that there is no military solution to the war in Syria, but it's his opinion that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is pursuing just that, a military solution, a military solution in the opinion of the United States that's aided by Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. He said Russia needs to stop being part of the problem and play a more active role in being a part of the political solution," said Stearns.

Russia has been both an ally of Assad and, along with the United States, a lead player in bringing the Syrian sides together for the peace talks. Kerry said Monday that Russia's deliveries of arms and aid to Syria are helping Assad pursue a military path.

On Sunday, Kerry said in a statement that all parties involved in the peace talks knew they would be difficult, but that "obstruction" by the Assad government is making the process even harder. He also praised Syrian opposition groups, saying they have presented a "viable and well-reasoned roadmap" for a transitional government in Syria.

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem cast blame on the United States, and said the U.S. worked to create a negative climate at the negotiations in Geneva.

The second round of peace talks ended Saturday with no agreement. A third round of negotiations has not been scheduled.

Also Sunday, the United Nations said it was not able distribute food aid for a ninth consecutive day at the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, which is home to thousands of Palestinians who have been there since before the Syrian civil war began.

A U.N. spokesman called on authorities and all parties to allow food, medicine and other humanitarian aid to be distributed. The spokesman said it is "a matter of the greatest urgency."

Kerry is traveling Monday to Abu Dhabi, where the Syrian crisis will be part of his meetings with officials.

"As you know, the Gulf states have largely pushed for a more active military presence in support of the opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. There's been some disagreement among some Gulf allies of the United States who feel that Washington has not done enough militarily to actively support the Syrian opposition," said Kerry.

The secretary's talks in Abu Dhabi will also include the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Iran's nuclear program.

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