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Russian Defense Ministry: “Only the Syrian army has been observing the ceasefire regime within these three days of implementation of the agreements while the US-led ‘moderate opposition’ has been increasing the number of shellings of residential quarters”.
Excerpts from SputnikNews, 15/9/2016 15:44 ~ 17:05 ~ 21:41
Syrian Army Withdraws Heavy Military Equipment to Create Demilitarized Zone
The Syrian Army has started withdrawal of heavy military equipment to create demilitarized zone, the Russian General Staff stated on Thursday.
“The Syrian governmant troops have stopped firing and begun to withdraw their tanks, IFV and artillery to a set distance to create a demilitarized zone. The Russian Aerospace Force and the Syrian Air Force have stopped airstrikes on areas where opposition units may be located,” Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir, first deputy chief of the General Staff’s Main Operational Department, told reporters.
“The Russian side is completely fulfilling its obligations under the ceasefire agreement. A checkpoint created on Castello Road has been handed over to the Red Crescent Society. The people’s self-defense units ‘Bustan’ and ‘Shield’ are defending the checkpoint,” Poznikhir said.
He added that the Russian Defense Ministry “has no information related to similar actions by opposition groups controlled by the US.” The first deputy chief of the General Staff’s Main Operational Department also said that withdrawal from Castello road in Aleppo may be halted if militants fail to do it simultaneously with the Syrian army. Moreover, the Russian General Staff voiced concern over a steady increase in ceasefire violations in Syria by opposition militants caused by Washington’s failure to separate ‘moderate opposition’ from al-Nusra Front terrorists.
We are concerned about a steady increase in ceasefire violations by opposition armed groups,” Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir, first deputy chief of the General Staff’s Main Operational Department, told reporters.
According to Poznikhir, new ceasefire in Syria introduced on September 12 has been violated 23 times on the first day, 37 times on the second day, and 45 times on the third day.
The general linked the increase in violations with the failure by the US side to separate US-backed ‘moderate opposition’ from the Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.
Extremist Groups Redeploy Units to Aleppo’s Northwest Amid Ceasefire in Syria
The extremist groups plan to block Castello road near the Syrian city of Aleppo amid nationwide ceasefire, according to a source in the city militia.
The extremist groups redeploy their units to Kafr Hamrah village located to the northwest of Aleppo city amid nationwide ceasefire in Syria, a source in the city militia told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
“Terrorists are assembling a lot of fighters in Kaft Hamrah. According to our data, they are forming assault groups,” the source said. According to the source, additional units were redeployed from Idlib province to Aleppo city.
“We do not know yet where the extremists plan to strike, but is its very likely that they will try to block Castello road, which is the city’s northern supply route,” the source added. On September 9, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry announced a new peace plan to address the conflict in Syria that called for a ceasefire to come into force on Monday.
If the new ceasefire in Syria lasts for seven days, the United States and Russia will launch the joint implementation center on distinguishing between opposition forces and terrorist groups. When the distinction is made, Moscow and Washington will coordinate their airstrikes against terrorists in the specific areas that have been agreed on. The Syrian air force, meanwhile, will operate in other areas, beyond those allocated for the Russian-US cooperation.
The next ministerial meeting on Syria is due to be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 21 and is expected to become an opportunity for the resumption of the negotiations in Geneva. Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with government forces loyal to Assad fighting numerous opposition factions and extremist groups.
Rift Appears Between US DoS and Pentagon Over Syrian Deal With Russia
Tensions are simmering in Washington regarding the deal struck by US Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov over Syria. There appears to be a rift within the Obama administration with the “party of war” opposing the idea of US-Russian cooperation.
The Russo-American deal on Syria has triggered controversy in the US with Pentagon officials signaling skepticism regarding the agreement.
“The agreement that Secretary of State John Kerry announced with Russia to reduce the killing in Syria has widened an increasingly public divide between Mr. Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who has deep reservations about the plan for American and Russian forces to jointly target terrorist groups,” The New York Times reported on September 13.
The media outlet narrated that the Pentagon officials were reluctant about putting in place its part of the US-Russian agreement.
In accordance with the deal the US Department of Defense would have to share information with Moscow on Daesh targets in Syria if the ceasefire holds for seven days.
“I’m not saying yes or no. It would be premature to say that we’re going to jump right into it,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, commander of the United States Air Forces Central Command, said as cited by the media outlet.
For its part, on Monday Foreign Policy magazine drew attention to the fact that senior officials at the Pentagon were expressing serious doubts regarding the efficiency of the agreement struck by Washington and Moscow. There appears to be a rift between Kerry and Carter over Syria, reflecting the ongoing conflict within the Obama administration. Previously, Carter has repeatedly opposed the Secretary of State’s initiatives to establish a working relationship with Moscow. However, in an apparent response to the New York Times’ publication, Carter voiced support for the State Department’s agreement with Russia on Syria.
“Well, the ceasefire as of today looks like it is largely being held. This is very important, I commend Secretary of State Kerry for getting us an agreement, which if it’s implemented, will ease the suffering of the Syrian people, which is very important to all of us, very important to the president,” the Secretary of Defense told a press briefing in Texas on September 14.
“We’ve got a ways to go to see whether it will be implemented or not, but if it is, and it will mean that the suffering of the Syrian people is eased. It will mean that Russia gets on the right side of things in Syria and not on the wrong side, and that’s good. And, so we in the Defense Department will play whatever role we have with our accustomed excellence,” he emphasized.
Although the Pentagon Chief has confirmed his commitment to implement the agreement, tensions continue to simmer over the Syrian ceasefire regime. On Thursday, commenting on the process of ceasefire regime implementation in the Syrian Arab Republic, Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation expressed its concerns about the US-led “moderate opposition’s” unwillingness to abide by the US-Russia brokered agreement.
“Only the Syrian army has been observing the ceasefire regime within these three days of implementation of the agreements while the US-led ‘moderate opposition’ has been increasing the number of shellings of residential quarters,” Russian Defense Ministry’s statement published on its Facebook page reads.
“Moreover, it appears that ‘verbal curtain’ of Washington is aimed at hiding the nonfulfillment of the US obligations. First of all it refers to separation of formations of ‘moderate opposition’ from terrorists,” the statement says.
In his interview on the John Batchelor Show Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton University, highlighted that that a covert struggle is going on between the “party of war,” represented by Ashton Carter and the Hillary Clinton camp, and the “party of peace” led by John Kerry and his followers.
Commenting on the July attempts by Kerry to strike a deal with Moscow on Syria, Cohen suggested that “the party of war” and most notably Carter, could have thrown a wrench in the US-Russian negotiations. Indeed, in mid-July the US and Russia announced an initial agreement to coordinate airstrikes against Daesh and al-Nusra Front in Syria. However, the negotiations soon stalled. The question remains open whether or not “the party of war” in Washington will upset the US-Russian applecart in Syria again.
SOURCES: SputnikNews SputnikNews SputnikNews submitted by SyrianPatriot & Lone Bear War Press Info Network at: https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/saa-ceasefire/ ~ Re-publications are welcome, but we kindly ask you, to facilitate the correct information's diffusion, to cite all these original links and sources.
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