By DoD News
By Marine Corps Sgt. David Staten
The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted Feb. 24 for an immediate 30-day cease-fire throughout Syria, but the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad continues attacking its citizens, especially in East Ghouta, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said Thursday.
The cease-fire would have allowed for the delivery of emergency aid and the evacuation of the wounded in heavily targeted areas. According to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, these areas are home to 400,000 people.
Russia, a strong ally of Assad, was supposed to help in making sure the Syrian regime followed the U.N. resolution, but instead has called for daily five-hour local cease-fires to establish what it calls a humanitarian corridor so aid can enter the enclave and civilians and wounded can leave.
Officials say this isn’t enough time to give the people the aid they need.
With a failed cease-fire, Russia’s commitment to de-escalate violence and negotiate a political solution is questionable. “Russia’s inability to exert control over portions of the battlefield where they operate is troublesome,” White said.
Undermining International Security
White referred to U.S. Central Command commander Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel’s testimony Feb. 27 at the House Armed Services Committee, saying “Russia played both arsonists and firefighters in Syria, fueling tensions among all parties, then serving as an arbiter to resolve disputes, attempting to undermine and weaken … each party’s bargaining position.”
“Russia’s efforts to preserve their own interests in Syria puts coalition progress at risk, and undermines international security,” she added.
White said the United States does not seek a conflict with the Syrian regime.
“But we call on Russia to restrain the Assad regime, deconflict counterterrorism operations with the coalition and de-escalate the remaining battlefields of the Syrian civil war,” she added
“We want Russia to live up to its commitments with respect to the cease-fire,” White said. “There are innocent people dying, there’s humanitarian assistance that’s not getting through. They made a commitment and we need them to uphold that commitment.”