Days after the U.S. suspends conversations with Russia, U.S. Secretary of State asks for an investigation of Russia for war crimes

On September 9, 206, the U.S. and Russia agreed to a ceasefire on Syrian territory. Russia, in support of the Syrian President Bachar al Asad, had been exchanging fire with the rebels, but agreed to a ceasefire to engage in a dialogue over the issue with the American nation. The U.S. was interested in coordinating with the Russian efforts – but in specific areas away from Aleppo that would favor its ongoing conflict with ISIS.

The agreement did not last long. On September 22, 2016, Russia attacked the eastern zone of Aleppo, which is under the command of rebels. The attack had, as of October 9, 2016, claimed 376 lives and injured 1,200 others. The core of the issue is that the collateral damage in these attacks have been hospitals, civil areas and humanitarian efforts, with children, women and aid workers. Furthermore, the air strikes have destroyed trucks full of supplies for civilians.

While it is still to be determined whether the air strike was initiated by Russia or the regime, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry railed against Russia’s failure to keep its end of the agreement by either refraining from launching more attacks on the zone or stopping the regime from doing so. He reminded that if the attack is found to have been a deliberate targeting, it would clearly be considered a war crime. Kerry ultimately deemed the attacks on the hospitals as a targeted strategy to terrorize civilians.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to Kerry’s claims and argued that it was the U.S. that had failed to keep to the commitments between the nations. She also denied attacking civilians or humanitarian workers, instead assuring that Russian targets have always been terrorist groups in Syria. Russia’s lower house of parliament soon moved to approve a treaty with Syria that would allow Russian troops to remain in the country indefinitely.

Most recently, on October 8, 2016, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault presented a plan before the UN Security Council for a further ceasefire to try to get humanitarian access to Aleppo. The plan urged both nations to an immediate truce and an end to military flights over the ravaged city. That same day, Russia vetoed the resolution, arguing that it “distorted” the real situation in Syria, and that a ban on aerial bombardment would “provide cover to terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra” and allied militants. The country then presented a separate counter resolution that did not call for a halt in airstrikes on Aleppo and omitted all mention of aerial bombardment. It failed to get the necessary votes to pass.

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