News / USA

    Kerry: Syrian Crisis at a Turning Point

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 13, 2016.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 13, 2016.
    Pamela Dockins

    The crisis in Syria has reached a turning point, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday, and decisions made in the near future could either end the war or “define a very difficult set of choices for the future.”
     
    “We hope this week can be a week of change,” Kerry told the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

    "This moment is a hinge point," Kerry said, using a seldom-heard phrase in English that means a turning point at which significant change occurs.

    "Decisions made in the coming days, weeks and months can end the war in Syria," Kerry continued. "Or, if the wrong choices are made, they can open the door to even wider conflict."

    Support for European allies

    Kerry stressed two main themes in his address to the global forum about security policy:

    He emphasized the United States' strong support for its allies in Europe as they confront multiple crises, including the tide of refugees from the Syrian civil war and the uneasy situation in Ukraine between the Kiev government and Russian-supported separatists.

    The top U.S. diplomat also spoke at length about the international effort to bring about a cease-fire in Syria, and the focus on ensuring that humanitarian aid can reach besieged civilian areas.

    'Defining challenge of our generation'

    "Perhaps most urgently," Kerry added, "the United States and Europe are at the forefront of facing what has become a defining challenge of our generation: the fight against violent extremism."

    He singled out the Islamic State terror group, declaring "we're going after their fighters" and "destroying their economic lifeline."

    Using his customary term Daesh —a scornful Arabic acronym — to refer to the Islamic State group, Kerry said: "We're going to defeat Daesh and... our progress is measurable and growing on a steady basis."

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, and UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on Feb. 11, 2016, at the Hilton Hotel join Munich, Germany.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, and UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on Feb. 11, 2016, at the Hilton Hotel join Munich, Germany.

    Summing up two days of talks among members of the International Syria Support group, Kerry said all sides agreed to work for a quick end to the violence in Syria as an essential first step toward a political solution to the five-year civil war. Despite the U.N. Security Council's demand that "all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians," he said the Damascus regime's offensive aimed at civilian areas has only increased.

    WATCH: Kerry Criticizes Russian Airstrikes in Syria

    Kerry Criticizes Russian Airstrikes in Syriai
    X
    VOA News
    February 13, 2016 9:48 PM
    Russia must change its targeting practices in Syria to avoid civilian areas, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday at the Munich Security Conference. He assured European allies of strong U.S. support as they struggle to deal with a tide of Syrian war refugees.

    Russia has continued its airstrikes in northern Syria since the plan for a partial truce was announced early Friday, Moscow's spokesmen have insisted repeatedly that their forces are not targeting civilians. Kerry refuted those claims in his speech Saturday, although he deleted from his text remarks criticizing Russia directly.

    "Free-fall bombs are being used, which are not precise," Kerry said. "We all know civilians are being killed."

    Stalls are seen on a street beside damaged buildings in the rebel held al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, Feb. 10, 2016.
    Stalls are seen on a street beside damaged buildings in the rebel held al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, Feb. 10, 2016.

     

    More talks by Kerry, Lavrov

    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kerry met for hastily arranged private talks late Saturday in Munich. Lavrov had said earlier that Russian and military leaders should work together to help arrange a cease-fire in Syria.

    The ISSG, which includes Russia, has declared a "cessation of hostilities" should begin in Syria by Friday, but the terms of that partial cease-fire are being widely questioned.

    Lavrov said that everyday military cooperation between Washington and Moscow in particular is “the key tool” to ensure delivery of humanitarian supplies and an end to hostilities. Until now, Lavrov said, U.S.-Russian military contacts about Syria have not gone beyond an agreement to avoid incidents among military aircraft.

    Russia, Ukraine urged to resolve differences
     
    Kerry also addressed the ongoing unrest in Ukraine during his speech, which took place shortly before he sat down for talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
     

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) listens to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko before their meeting at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 13, 2016.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) listens to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko before their meeting at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 13, 2016.

    Their talks took place as a multi-national effort is underway to resolve instability in eastern Ukraine and fully implement the Minsk agreement, which calls for a cease-fire between the government and Russian-backed separatists.
     
    Kerry said Russia had a “simple choice” – fully implement the Minsk agreement or continue to face “economically damaging” sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European Union.
     
    “The path to sanctions relief is clear,” said Kerry. “Withdraw weapons and troops from Donbas; ensure that all Ukrainian hostages are returned; allow full humanitarian access to occupied territories.”
     
    He added that Ukraine had responsibilities to respect the Minsk agreement as well.
     
    Officials from both Russia and Ukraine referenced the ongoing tensions during their speeches to the security conference.
     
    “Mr. Putin [Russian President Vladimir Putin], this is not a civil war in Ukraine. This is your aggression,” said President Poroshenko.
     
    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told the group, "Without doubt, all sides have to abide to the Minsk agreement, but primarily the implementation depends on the authorities in Kiev.”

    French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (R) and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 13, 2016.
    French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (R) and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 13, 2016.

     

     

     

     

     

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    February 13, 2016 5:29 PM
    The islamic psychotic murderers would love to be killing American troops, but if that is not possible they will just kill muslims, troops, police, women and children, farmers, they are all legitimate parts of the body count, farm animals. chop down a tree, they would kill a river if they could figure out how.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 13, 2016 1:46 PM
    The (question) all Sunni Muslim religious extremists, fanatics and insane that are waging a Jihad war against Assad and Syria should ask themselves; "Are you killing all those Muslims in Syria for the nonbelievers cause, [or], are you killing them to further the cause of mighty Allah" _ because mighty Allah will remember the true believers, and not recognize those that killed the true believers for the nonbelievers? .. Paradise is for martyrs, and martyrs don't kill true believers for nonbelievers, do they? .. think about it?

    by: Ricardo from: Brazil
    February 13, 2016 1:38 PM
    There are people and nations who will never know what is gratitude. Despite the United States being the only barrier to Syria, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Palestine and Ukraine to burn in flames until not remain a single living soul. They still insist on keep making the same mistakes and persisting in old habits of intolerance.

    by: martin archer from: USA
    February 13, 2016 1:06 PM
    The only "turning point" for Kerry will be when he turns his head in his next meaningless photo opp. He and the White House have no credibility with anyone involved in the middle east. Even the Kurds have given up and begun listening to Moscow - and little wonder in that because it is the US "policy" to drive the Kurds back under the control of Baghdad and Damascus in order to maintain the old national borders of Iraq and Syria.

    Let's face it, the current US government has lost its moral compass. It is supporting Endogan and the Ayatollah controlled governments instead of the Kurds and Israelis.

    by: Victor Edwards from: United States
    February 13, 2016 11:47 AM
    Kerry, this is not a "turning point." You lost this one. It is the "end" point in which Assad and the Russians have won, and you are trying to pretend there is some way to prevent the deaths of more than a quarter of a million of Assad's own people. You are pathetic, sir. To claim some sort of "turning point" is about as deceptive as you could be. You lost - and the Syrian people lost, too.

    Worse yet is that this mess is not over at all. Assad will soon win by running essentially a third of his country out of the country so he can settle it all with his own sluggish people, who have been basking in the sunshine at the beach, where for some unknown reason the Americans have not bombed the hell out of Assad and his thugs.

    As a previous president once said, "this day will go down in infamy."

    Shame on America! Shame on the Allies! The blood of Syrians is on your hands.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 13, 2016 10:35 AM
    The Syrian war would end in weeks or months of this year, [if only], the US, NATO and their Sunni Muslim allies would stop arming and equipping the terrorist/rebel groups that they support, (but they won't do it), because it's not the solution they want, so they will keep on arming and equipping the terrorist/rebel groups that they support to wage their proxy war to replace the Shia Muslim led government of Assad with a Sunni Muslim government? .. For what cause?

    Instead of trying to win the war on terror and against the terrorists, the US and their allies are arming and equipping the terrorists to wage a Jihad war on Assad and Syria, [while the terrorists have become a real world power now attacking everybody all over the world, and are threatening to become a super power soon, [and now], the US and their allies have singled out the ISIL terrorist group to bomb, and now are waging a propaganda war against the Russians who want to defeat all the terrorists worldwide? .. Crazy? .. It's downright insane? .. Assad isn't any danger to the world, but the terrorists are a real dangerous threat to the world, with the US commander in chief acting like a moron helping them?
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    February 15, 2016 6:12 PM
    Your brain is well washed😂

    by: rbockman from: Philly
    February 13, 2016 9:04 AM
    What Kerry really means to say is, I can just smell that nobel peace prize.

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