Aleppo “never not part” of ceasefire efforts, US says

WASHINGTON, May 2 (KUNA) — As the US continues to urge Russia to apply pressure on the Syrian regime to comply with a very fragile ceasefire, it also stressed Monday that Aleppo must be equally shielded from attacks.
Government forces have bombarded Syria’s most populated city in recent days, leaving more than 230 people dead. The attacks on two hospitals are also not the first violations of the Cessation of Hostilities that came into effect at the end of February.
“I do want to make it clear that Aleppo was never not on the table. Aleppo was never not part of the Cessation,” State Department Spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, referring to the Syrian regime’s insistence that the city not factor into the lull in violence.
“The Cessation of Hostilities, when agreed to, was nationwide… when we say nationwide, we mean nationwide. Now, we knew that there were going to be violations, even on day one. But we’ve been up here talking about this situation in Aleppo for some matter of weeks. It’s obviously of deep concern, and so obviously, we’re going to stay focused on that,” he affirmed.
US Secretary of State John Kerry – who is meeting with foreign ministers in Geneva in an effort to salvage the cessation agreement – spoke via phone with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov Monday, and urged him to “use [Moscow’s] influence” to have Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad open up humanitarian supply routes for the Red Cross, Kirby said.
They “talked predominantly about the Cessation, acknowledging that it is in fact fragile and, and talking about ways in which it can be restored throughout the country… and they did talk about the potential for another ISSG [International Syria Support Group] meeting sometime in the near future,” he revealed, but said no specifics could be read out.
“We’ve had now three rounds of talks on the political front, much more work needs to be done,” Kirby added. “Nobody’s arguing that the political process has not struggled. And we’re certainly not indicating that we’re satisfied that things are exactly on track.” (end) ys.ibi

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