Obama: Russia must show it is ‘serious’ about defeating Daesh, ending Syrian conflict

Published August 5th, 2016 - 12:30 GMT
US President Barack Obama chaired a National Security Council Meeting at the Pentagon August 4, 2016 on the anti-Daesh campaign and received an update from his national security team on the efforts to degrade and destroy the group. (AFP/Getty Images/Mark Wilson)
US President Barack Obama chaired a National Security Council Meeting at the Pentagon August 4, 2016 on the anti-Daesh campaign and received an update from his national security team on the efforts to degrade and destroy the group. (AFP/Getty Images/Mark Wilson)

Russia must show genuine intent to end the civil war in Syria, US President Barack Obama said Thursday, stressing that Washington would try to work with Moscow despite concerns about Russian support of Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Russia must show it is "serious" about defeating Islamic State in Syria, Obama said, noting the United States does not trust Russian President Vladimir Putin but pursue all avenues to end the Syrian civil war and defeat Daesh.

"The depravity of the Syrian regime has rightly earned the condemnation of the world," Obama said at the Pentagon, after a briefing about US efforts against Daesh in the region.

"Russia's direct involvement in these actions over the last several weeks raises very serious questions about their commitment to pulling the situation back from the brink."

Obama outlined broad progress in the fight against Daesh forces in both Iraq and Syria after his meeting with military and intelligence officials.

"Even [Islamic State] leaders know they're going to keep losing," he said. "In their message to followers, they're increasingly acknowledging that they may lose Mosul and Raqqah."

But defeating the extremist group in Syria will require an end to the civil war, and Obama called on Moscow to do more as US officials contemplate closer cooperation with Russia.

"So far Russia has failed to take the necessary steps," he said. "It is time for Russia to show that it is serious about pursuing these objectives."

A series of airstrikes by the Syrian regime and its Russian allies hit the besieged rebel side of Aleppo on Thursday amid fierce ground fighting in the contested northern city, both a monitoring group and activists said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the bombardment targeted the opposition-controlled neighborhoods of al-Qalasa, Bustan al-Qasr and the Electricity Company in eastern Aleppo.

The Britain-based watchdog did not report casualties.

Heavy fighting was meanwhile raging along most battle fronts of Aleppo, especially in the south-western parts of the city, amid initial information about rebels' advances against regime forces, according to the Observatory's network of activists inside war-torn Syria.

Activist Ammar Jello, who is based near Syria's border with Turkey, said that at least 12 air raids by unidentified planes targeted a refugee camp near the town of Atareb in western Aleppo, killing at least two people.

At least 30 tents in the camp were destroyed, Jello told dpa by phone.

Syrian state radio said shells fired by rebels fell on the regime side of Aleppo, injuring dozens.

At least 16 civilians, including four children, were killed overnight in airstrikes by unidentified jets on rebel-held areas in Aleppo, the Observatory said. In recent weeks, opposition activists have blamed intense air attacks in the eastern section of the city on Syrian regime and Russian warplanes.

Last month, al-Assad's forces besieged Aleppo's rebel-controlled districts, after they captured all supply routes into those areas, raising fears of a humanitarian disaster.

Islamist rebels on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo, launched a major offensive Sunday on regime strongholds in the area in an attempt to break the regime blockade.

Once Syria's commercial hub, Aleppo has been divided between government forces in the west and rebels in the east since fighting for control of the city erupted in mid-2012.

Syria's conflict started in March 2011 with peaceful pro-democracy protests before devolving into a multi-sided war that has killed more than 250,000 people and triggered a global refugee crisis.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said Thursday it had completed an urgent relief operation to provide a one-month ration of desperately needed food and hygiene supplies to more than 75,000 Syrians trapped along a land embankment at their country's border with Jordan.

The operation was launched in conjunction with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration and UNICEF.

"Unable either to cross the border or turn back, the situation facing these women, men and children has grown more dire by the day," the aid groups said in a joint statement.

"Sheltering in makeshift tents in harsh desert conditions with temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius and sudden sand storms, they are without sufficient food and have barely enough water to survive."

By Anne K. Waters and Weedah Hamzah

© 2019 dpa GmbH

You may also like