National Security

U.S. Threatens to End Cooperation With Russia in Syria

John Kerry
John Kerry / AP

Secretary of State John Kerry warned his Russian counterpart on Wednesday the U.S. would suspend bilateral engagement in Syria unless Moscow works to end the assault on Aleppo and restores a ceasefire in the war-torn country, according to the State Department.

In a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Kerry voiced "grave concern over the deteriorating situation in Syria" and made clear that Washington faults Moscow for escalated turmoil, including its use of incendiary bombs in civilian-heavy territories, Reuters reported.

Russian and Syrian military forces have launched their biggest offensive on the rebel-held city of Aleppo since the ceasefire deal struck by the U.S. and Russia collapsed a little over a week ago.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced to lawmakers on Wednesday he was moving to introduce a United Nations Security Council resolution for a cessation of hostilities in Aleppo, Reuters reported.

Ayrault accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of carrying out an "all-out-war" on its people with the backing of Russia and Iran.

"At this very moment, we are proposing to discuss a resolution to obtain a ceasefire in Aleppo," Ayrault said. "This resolution will leave everyone facing their responsibilities: those who don’t vote for it, risk being held responsible for complicity in war crimes."

He said France would not allow Aleppo to become the 21st century version of Guernica, a town in Spain with a large civilian population that was indiscriminately bombed during the Spanish Civil War.

A senior French diplomatic source told Reuters that parliament had drafted a resolution and wanted to review it with the U.S. and Britain before presenting it to the Russians for a "proper discussion" to end the violence and allow humanitarian access in the area.

"If they don’t play the game, then we will have no qualms taking this to the Security Council even if it means a Russian veto," the diplomat said.