Russland foreslår våpenhvile

Russland har foreslått en våpenhvile i Syria fra 1. mars, men skepsisen er stor i Washington fordi der mener man at russerne planlegger å slå ut alle Assads motstandere. Litt merkelig, selv om amerikanerne kontrer med at en våpenhvile må inntre umiddelbart, så er i all lidelse sivilbefolkningen gjennomgår under kamphandlingene for alvorlig til å avvise russernes forslag. Artikkelen er hentet fra the Guardian.

US officials have countered what it says are Russian proposals for a ceasefire in Syria to begin on 1 March with a demand for fighting to stop immediately.

Russia has not so far officially given a date for a ceasefire to begin, but the Washington Post reported that Moscow had sent a letter to the US proposing to stop bombing on 1 March.

Russian news agencies reported on Thursday that a deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, had said Moscow was “ready to discuss the modalities of a ceasefire” at the Munich security conference from 12-14 February.

“This is what will be talked about in Munich,” he said, according to the Tass news agency. Interfax said Gatilov also said that peace talks could resume before 25 February.

A Kremlin spokesman did not directly respond to questions on Russia’s proposed date and instead said discussions about a possible ceasefire were still ongoing and “one can’t speak about unanimity in the process of a Syrian settlement.”

Washington officials speaking anonymously to the Associated Press painted a 1 March ceasefire proposal as an attempt by Moscow to give itself and the Syrian government three more weeks to try to crush moderate rebel groups.

One said the US could not accept Russia’s offer because opposition forces could suffer irreversible losses in northern and southern Syria in the meantime.

Washington has said it wants a ceasefire and humanitarian access to besieged cities but has threatened an unspecified “Plan B” if talks fail, as tension mounts with Moscow over its air campaign.

“There is no question … that Russia’s activities in Aleppo and in the region right now are making it much more difficult to be able to come to the table and to be able to have a serious conversation,” the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said this week.

The talk of new ceasefire plans comes as the US, Russia and more than a dozen other countries meet in Munich.

In five years of civil war, 400,000 Syrians have been killed and another 70,000 have perished due to a lack of basics such as clean water and healthcare, according to the Syrian Centre for Policy Research.

The conflict has also created Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since the second world war and allowed the Islamic State terrorist group to carve out its own territory across parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

Russia says it is supporting Bashar al-Assad’s government as part of a counterterrorism campaign. But the west says the majority of its strikes are targeting moderate groups that are opposed to Assad and Isis.

The Russian defence ministry said on Thursday it had carried out 510 military sorties in Syria from 4-11 February. A statement listed the targets in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, Deir ez-Zor, Daraa, Homs, Hasakah and Raqqa.

The most recent Russian-backed offensive, near Aleppo, has prompted opposition groups to walk out of peace talks in Geneva, while forcing tens of thousands of civilians to flee toward the Turkish border.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoðan, said in a nationally-broadcast speech on Thursday that the country will be patient up to a point over the crisis and will then be forced to take action. He said Iran-backed forces were carrying out “merciless massacres” and that the UN needed to do more to prevent “ethnic cleansing”.

The US counterproposal to Russia is a ceasefire effective immediately, accompanied by full humanitarian access to Syria’s besieged civilian centres.

Kerry, who arrived in Germany on Wednesday, had talks planned late in the evening with the UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura and Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, a key backer of Syria’s rebel groups.

The US Secretary of State and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, will host foreign ministers from the 17-nation Syria contact group in Munich, for a meeting billed as a moment of truth for the floundering peace process.

The meeting coincides with US defence secretary Ash Carter’s attendance at a gathering in Brussels to hash out military options with Nato partners.

The Obama administration has been trying for months to clinch a ceasefire and pave the way for a transitional government in Syria that would allow parties to the conflict to concentrate on defeating the threat posed by Isis and the Nusra Front, an al-Qaida affiliate.

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