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Russia, US trade barbs in Syria blame game
September 22, 2016, 1:41 pm

Aid has reached some displaced Syrians near the capital Damascus but all convoys to the besieged Aleppo have been suspended [Xinhua]

Aid has reached some displaced Syrians near the capital Damascus but all convoys to the besieged Aleppo have been suspended [Xinhua]

Russia and the US took swipes at each other late Wednesday as an United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria – and the recent attack on an aid convoy – broke down into a Cold War era blame game.

Although it appeared the two had broken off contacts, Russian media early on Thursday quoted Kremlin sources who said that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John discussed the crisis during a phone conversation before meeting with their delegations in a closed session after their public clash.

Earlier on Wednesday, during a heated UN Security Council meeting on Syria Lavrov denied that either his country’s or the Syrian Air Force had anything to do with the September 19 attack on the humanitarian convoy near Aleppo which killed 21 aid workers. He appeared to hint that Islamist rebels “shelled” the 31-truck convoy and called for a full investigation.

He said that Moscow had provided the UN and US with all their information on the attack, including footage of a rebel truck with mounted mortar trailing the convoy.

Lavrov said that Russia had monitored a number of Islamist rebel factions regrouping and advancing on districts in the city of Aleppo. As a result, Lavrov said there would be “no more unilateral pauses” by Syrian government forces against these rebel groups.

But US Secretary of State John Kerry ridiculed Lavrov’s account.

“I listened to my colleague from Russia and I sort of felt like we’re in a parallel universe here,” Kerry said.

“There are only two countries that have planes that are flying during the night or flying in that particular area at all,” Kerry added. “They are Russia and Syria.”

Kerry sharply criticized Russia for supporting the Syrian government.

“How can people go sit at a table with a regime that bombs hospitals and drops chlorine gas again and again and again and again and again and acts with impunity,” Kerry said. “You’re supposed to sit there and have happy talk in Geneva while the regime drops bombs?”

Kerry demanded that all Russian and Syrian aircraft be grounded.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told local media that Kerry’s space was more of a spectacle than anything.

“The speech of US delegation written for the Secretary of State was a show for millions of viewers and primarily, for the mass media, for cameras,” Zakharova said. “It was not the first time when the US delegation pulled wool on the eyes of the world from that seat at the Security Council,” Russian news agency TASS quoted her as saying.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on all aircraft to suspend sorties over Syria in a bid to salvage what was left of a collapsing ceasefire.

“If the ceasefire is to stand any chance [of succeeding], the only path is a temporary, but complete ban of all military aircraft movement in Syria – for at least three days, better would be seven days,” Steinmeier told the Security Council.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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