STATEMENT BY THE U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SYRIA MICHAEL RATNEY ON THE DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE UNITED STATES, AUGUST 29, 2016

U.S. Department Of State

Office Of The Special Envoy For Syria

29 August 2016

 

Statement on the Discussions Between Russia and the United States

Since the beginning of the revolution, the United States and its regional allies have sought to enable the opposition to build a better future for the Syrian people and to resolve the Syrian conflict through a just political solution that satisfies the aspirations of all Syrians for a life of dignity and freedom. To that end, we have been involved in intensive discussions to ensure Russia fulfills its obligations in Syria with regard to ending the violence.

In light of several inaccurate reports that have circulated regarding our understandings with Russia, I would like to clarify the following:

1: There is no truth to the Interfax reports about a Russia-U.S. agreement to target fighters in Aleppo or to evacuate fighters from the city. All information about any U.S.-Russia understanding will come from the State Department official spokesperson or from the Office of the U.S. Special Envoy for Syria.

2: The United States has not begun to coordinate with Russia in Syria, militarily or otherwise. It does not make sense to speak about cooperation without Russia fulfilling its obligations in Syria. This means ending indiscriminate attacks on Syrian civilians and holding the regime to its obligations under the cessation of hostilities.

3: The United States and Russia have not reached an agreement, but we are working on understandings that, if they are achieved, can restore the cessation of hostilities, reduce the violence, and save lives. These steps are not based on trust, they are specific and we have set a high ceiling for Russia, the regime, and its allies.

4: The situation around Aleppo city is unacceptable to us. The United States deplores the regime’s attempt to besiege Aleppo city and demands that full access to the city be maintained.

5: The agreement seeks to address the overriding concerns on both the U.S. and Russian sides. These include relentless attacks by the regime and its supporters – including Russia – on the opposition and Syrian civilians, and its bad faith participation in both the cessation of hostilities and the political process. It also includes the need to intensify efforts against terrorist groups, namely ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra, now known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, that represent a threat not only to the United States and international community, but also to the Syrian Revolution.