US suspends bilateral contact with Russia over Syria

Washington has “suspended” bilateral contacts with Moscow over the Syrian crisis, the US State Department said. Russian Foreign Ministry said it was “disappointed” by the decision and accused the US of seeking to shift blame for its own failure in Syria.

US officials had threatened for a week to withdraw from the Syrian peace process, after the latest ceasefire negotiated by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry collapsed amid bloody fighting

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Statement by Rear Adm. John Kirby for the U.S. State Department

The Joint Implementation Center (JIC) would have been located in Geneva, Switzerland, with the purpose to coordinate military cooperation and intelligence-sharing between Russia and the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.

Washington has dragged its feet on setting up the JIC, however, with State Department spokesman John Kirby telling reporters on September 16 that its establishment was contingent on humanitarian aid reaching Aleppo, while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, told lawmakers the US had “no intention of having an intelligence-sharing agreement with the Russians.”

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended Moscow’s participation in a program for disposing of plutonium from decommissioned nuclear warheads, citing “the radical change in the environment, a threat to strategic stability posed by the hostile actions of the US against Russia, and the inability of the US to deliver on the obligation to dispose of excessive weapons plutonium under international treaties.”  

Moscow to send more warplanes into Syria as Aleppo fighting rages | Deutsche Welle |

Russia’s “Izvestia” newspaper has reported that a group of Su-24 and Su-34 warplanes – armored twin-engine jets battle-tested during the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s – have arrived at Syria’s Hmeymim base. They can be used to strafe targets on the ground or as a bomber, the paper reported.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has repeated its urgent demand on the warring sides to allow the evacuation of sick and wounded people from eastern Aleppo. An estimated 300,000 people in the city are under siege by government forces, and residents report declining supplies of basic goods, including food, electricity and medicine.

The Kremlin said there was no timeframe for its military operation in Syria. The main result of Russian airstrikes over the past year is that “neither Islamic State, nor al-Qaeda nor the Nusra Front are now sitting in Damascus,” Peskov told Reporters.

See my diaries a few days ago …
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