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Kerry Warns Assad As Truce Talks Shift To Berlin

Kerry; Syria, Assad, Russia
Posted: May 4, 2016 at 9:46 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Syria’s Bashar al-Assad of “repercussions” if his regime flouts a new truce being negotiated, as talks to halt the violence shifted to Berlin Wednesday.

“If Assad does not adhere to (the new ceasefire), there will clearly be repercussions and one of them may be the total destruction of the ceasefire and they go back to war,” Kerry told reporters after returning from an earlier round of talks in Geneva.

“I don’t think that Russia wants that. I don’t think Assad is going to benefit from that,” Kerry added.

Russia has said a new ceasefire to halt fighting in Aleppo could be imminent, with Syria’s divided northern city hit by a wave of violence that has killed more than 270 people since April 22.

With the UN Security Council to hold urgent talks on the crisis later Wednesday, diplomatic efforts to stem the violence shifted to Germany where Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was to meet UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, Syria’s main opposition leader Riad Hijab and France’s top diplomat Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Renewed fighting between regime and rebel forces has centred on Aleppo, where heavy clashes left around 30 people dead on Tuesday, with Kerry issuing a stark warning to Assad if his government failed to abid by the new deal.

The Security Council meeting to discuss the bloodshed, which is threatening to derail international peace efforts to end the five-year war in Syria, was called for by France and Britain.

“(Aleppo) is to Syria what Sarajevo was to Bosnia,” said France’s UN ambassador Francois Delattre.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said late Tuesday he hoped to agree a freeze of flighting in Aleppo “in the near future, maybe even in the next few hours” after meeting de Mistura in Moscow.

A February 27 truce between Assad’s regime and non-jihadist rebels raised hopes for efforts to resolve the five-year conflict, but it has come close to collapse due to the recent surge in violence.