Syria Conflict: Kerry tells Russia patience is not “infinite”

Exclusive to The Middle East Online

Edited by Nelly Tawil

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has warned the Syrian regime and its main military backer Russia, to respect the “frayed” ceasefire and said that its “patience was not infinite” amid mounting death tolls.

The US Secretary of State addressed the Oslo Forum on conflict resolution and mediation, he stated the truce “may not succeed” and that Russia, in particular needed to exert more pressure on Assad to respect the ceasefire and allow aid deliveries.

Kerry also mentioned the challenge of combating extremist groups and terrorism, while rejecting claims that the world is engaged in a “clash of civilisations” between the West and Islam.

“No, this is not a clash of civilisations, this is a struggle between civilisation itself and barbarism, between civilisation and fundamental raw political exploitations and mix of medieval and modern fascism, together at the same time,” he said.

After a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Norwegian capital, Oslo on Wednesday Kerry said “Russia needs to understand that our patience is not infinite, in fact it is very limited with whether or not [Bashar] Al-Assad is going to be held accountable.”

In further efforts to end the fighting, particularly in the northern city of Aleppo where raging battle has claimed dozens of lives in the past few days, Mr. Kerry has met with defence ministers from Syria, Iran and Russia.

“We are also prepared to hold accountable members of the opposition” who have been involve in continuing violence, he said.

The Syrian conflict has drawn in world powers, with the US, along with regional powers, largely backing the moderate rebels while Russia began military offensive in support of the Assad regime in September.

A Moscow and Washington-backed ceasefire has been in place since February 27, but fresh bout of fighting broke out in April that stalled the UN peace talks in Geneva.

More than 280,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria’s war in 2011, and millions have been displaced, UN estimates.