News / Middle East

    Russia Warns of Unilateral Action to Police Syria Cease-fire

    FILE - In this photo taken from Russian Defense Ministry official website on Oct. 6, 2015, a Russian  SU-24M jet fighter prepares to take off from an airbase in Syria.
    FILE - In this photo taken from Russian Defense Ministry official website on Oct. 6, 2015, a Russian SU-24M jet fighter prepares to take off from an airbase in Syria.
    VOA News

    Russia has warned it could take unilateral action beginning Tuesday against those who violate the nearly month-old cessation of hostilities in Syria.

    The move comes after complaints that the U.S. has been slow to work with Russia on rules for jointly monitoring violations.  The two countries were key in bringing the halt in fighting that applies to pro-government and rebel fighters, but not attacks against terror groups.

    U.N. envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who is leading a second week of peace talks with Syria's warring sides, said Monday he is concerned about any breakdown in U.S.-Russian cooperation.

    "The moment they don't talk substantively, we go back to the past and we cannot afford it, and they know it too," de Mistura said.

    He said the cease-fire and corresponding increase in humanitarian aid are largely holding, but that he is concerned they cannot be sustained if there is a lack of progress on a political transition for Syria.

    The U.N. has been working off a basic plan that includes a new constitution and elections.  The future of President Bashar al-Assad has been a major point of contention between the Syrian government and its allies who say he does not have to leave power for the country to have peace, while the opposition and its backers say he must.

    "It is clear that the political transition is the 'mother of all issues,'" de Mistura said after meeting with the government delegation Monday in Geneva. 

    The head of Syria's delegation at the peace talks, Bashar al-Jaafari, reiterated the government's stance, saying Assad's future has "nothing to do" with the negotiations.

    De Mistura is meeting with the opposition on Tuesday as part of his process of indirect negotiations.  He plans to continue meeting with both sides on Wednesday and Thursday before adjourning this round of talks.  He has said he plans to launch the next round in April, though no definite date has been set.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Randallt
    March 22, 2016 5:16 PM
    If Assad really want peace for his people just step down...

    by: John
    March 22, 2016 5:33 AM
    Neither the US nor Russia have the last word on this mess. The Syrians and other locals also have a stake.
    Evidently the squabble over who runs Syria is now supposed to be settled at the conference table. I can't see that any of the parties yet are in the position where they must give up their dearest hopes and wishes and bow to the evil incarnate that is their opponents.
    Still, perhaps they'll all surprise me and hug and kiss and make up. No doubt when all the aircraft bombing the place are grounded to avoid the pigs flying overhead.

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    March 22, 2016 5:24 AM
    Putin is sinking in the quicksand. He's probably got about a year left before things get so bad in Russia they'll be ready to get rid of him. He pulled out of Syria out of desperation. His mission there is far from finished. My guess, he's having money problems. Too many holes in the dyke, not enough fingers to plug them.
    In Response

    by: David from: Ok
    March 22, 2016 4:15 PM
    The real foxes in the Hen house are The Russians, Hezbollah, and Iran. There is an alliance of evil if ever I saw one. I firmly believe Al-Asad will have a serious "accident or fatal Illness as soon as the Russians are ready. He already serves no purpose for them. He is a puppet and they are the puppet masters. The U.S. I agree should not have gone into Syria in the first place. but the Russian interests there will likely prevail and Asad will disappear. A new leader will be pushed up and he will suddenly have the backing of Russia.
    In Response

    by: KoreyD from: Canada
    March 22, 2016 11:55 AM
    Russia, Hezbollah and Iran are in Syria at the request of the government of that country. They are there legitimately and legally. All others whether they are rebels or the US and it's "coalition" are there for the stated reason of regime change, an invalid and illegal act according to the UN and International law.

    At best it is a civil war to be resolved by the Syrian opposition and the government. America especially should reflect on it's illegal invasions and occupations of Middle eastern countries since Iraq and graph the steady rise of terrorists and their acts since those actions, take responsibility for the consequences and pay reparations to these countries; allthough I know that will never happen, just check out the case of Nicaraqua
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 22, 2016 8:36 AM
    There are only (2 sides) in any war? .. The US side with the terrorist/rebels doing the actual fighting for them, [versus], the Syrian government side with Russian and Iran supporting them, with Syrians, Hezbollah and Iranian fighters defending against those US terrorist/rebels?

    And now? .. Remember, that the losing side (asks) for a ceasefire and peace talks, and the winning side (offers) terms and conditions for a ceasefire and peace? .. And the Syrian government is the winning side now and offered terms and conditions that the US signed off on? .. The only thing holding up the peace settlement, is the US and their terrorist/rebels seeking to introduce their plan "B" at the bargaining table? .. What the US and their terrorist/rebels couldn't win on the battlefield, they're trying to win at the bargaining table? .. Pitiful isn't it?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora