US Secretary of State John Kerry demanded on Wednesday that Russia force Bashar al-Assad’s regime to ground its air force in order to revive hopes of a ceasefire in Syria’s civil war.
Addressing the UN Security Council, including his Russian opposite number Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Kerry said efforts to find peace could yet be salvaged but only if Moscow takes responsibility for recent air strikes.
Kerry said that only Russian and Syrian warplanes had been active in areas of northern Syria where on Monday a United Nations aid convoy had been destroyed from the air and on Tuesday a field clinic was bombed.
“I believe that to restore credibility to the process we must move forward to try to immediately ground all aircraft flying in those key areas in order to de-escalate the situation and to give a chance for humanitarian assistance to flow unimpeded,” he said.
“And if that happens there’s a chance of giving credibility back to this process,” he said, referring to an agreement he reached with Lavrov in Geneva earlier this month to broker a cessation of hostilities.
“In Geneva, Russia related that Assad was prepared to live by the cessation of hostilities and would accept the idea of not flying over agreed upon areas,” Kerry said.