State Department spokesman Mark Toner had trouble explaining Tuesday why the United States has not done more to address the humanitarian situation in Aleppo, Syria as the situation has deteriorated in recent days.
Since the ceasefire in Syria fell apart last week, the siege of Aleppo has escalated, especially with the news that Syrian regime forces are now attacking rebel-held parts of the city with ground forces. Russian and Syrian aircraft have been bombing the city for some time now, killing many innocent civilians and aid workers.
Reuters reporter Arshad Mohammed asked Toner why the United States government has not acted in Aleppo.
"What makes Aleppo different from the Yazidis who were on Mount Sinjar, from the Libyans who [Muammar] Gaddafi said he was going to hunt down like rats? What’s the difference here?" Mohammed said. "You have 250,000 people in a defined area that are now surrounded, that are subject not just to air but now to ground assault. Why did the United States deem it to be in the U.S. national interest to intervene in those other circumstances but not in this circumstance?"
Toner said that he does not like comparing different situations the U.S. has faced due to different circumstances.
"In the case of Aleppo, in the case of Syria, it’s hard to find one that’s more complex, and we’ve talked about that," Toner said. "But also, the fact that really until the past few weeks we felt like we were on a firm path toward a possible diplomatic resolution to this. We still believe that’s possible."
Mohammed then asked Toner if it was possible that the Obama administration may want to end diplomacy after it has mostly failed for five years.
"As part of, frankly, a healthy debate within any administration, those conversations are always ongoing, how you approach or how you resolve an issue like this or a problem like this, a conflict like this. Ultimately, you know, that’s a decision for the president to make," Toner said.