US calls for Syria investigation attempt to distract from ceasefire failure - Russian FM spox

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova © Ramil Sitdikov
US is trying to distract attention from its own failure to implement the ceasefire deal by calling for an investigation into Russia’s actions in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

"The US side just could not fulfill the ceasefire agreement. They themselves told us that they do not have the means to put pressure on the opposition,” Zakharova said, as quoted by TASS.

She also warned Washington that there were legal consequences for such rhetoric.

Kerry’s statement - this is propaganda. There are some very serious legal consequences behind this terminology, and I think that Kerry used all of these terms to inflame the situation,” Zakharova said.

She said in an interview to Dozhd TV channel:“If it comes to war crimes, US representatives should start with Iraq. And then move to Libya, and of course to Yemen - find out what's there. I want to say that juggling these words is very dangerous, because there are indeed war crimes on the part of the American representatives.”

Speaking on the way to resolve the Syrian crisis, Zakharova noted that there are several “streams” in Washington which are trying to push through their respective positions.

"There are different streams in Washington, which are right now competing for lobbying of their approach to solving the Syrian [issue]. There are some who strongly advocate for ousting Bashar Assad, some push for military operations,” she said at a forum for young diplomats on Friday.

“As far as we understand, this is not supported either by the [US] secretary of state, nor by the US president, who are aimed at following the UN Security Council resolution, which clearly states that there is no military way [forward].”

Earlier on Friday, US Secretary John Kerry said that the Russian and Syrian governments' actions in Syria "beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes." He alleged Moscow and Damascus have been “hitting hospitals, medical facilities,” in the war-ravaged country.

Russia has come under criticism from Washington over airstrikes hitting East Aleppo. Moscow and Damascus said that the joint mission is targeting terrorists in the city who have repeatedly jeopardized the cessation of hostilities agreed between Russia and the US.

Earlier in October, Washington suspended bilateral contacts with Moscow on Syria over the bombardment. Moscow in return noted that the US has failed to deliver on its promise to separate “moderate opposition” from the terrorists, which in turn jeopardized the truce deal.

In a press briefing on Friday, the Russian military stated that starting with the first ceasefire agreed on February 22, Washington failed to fully implement its obligations. In particular, the US gave Moscow imprecise data over the locations of al-Nusra terrorists.

“In the aftermath, it has led to problems in identifying specific violators of the ceasefire,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said.

The statement by the US Secretary of State reflects a "posturing" position, former UK counter-terrorism officer Charles Shoebridge told RT.

“We've seen many times” that Kerry tends to speak in "a very bellicose way, a very counterproductive way, in many ways a threatening way," he said.

Yet "behind the scenes he seems to have come to an accommodation with Lavrov and others, even if then subsequently America is unable to deliver on those undertakings that he has signed up to," Shoebridge said, adding that the US failure to pressure moderate rebels “to separate themselves from terrorists” serves as an example.

"It may well be that he is posturing, some degree of posturing is going on. He is pandering to an audience, a domestic audience and indeed foreign audience that in its diverse ways makes the elements of US foreign policy, the different lobby groups he has to think about: the Saudis, the Israelis," he said.

Shoebridge added that it’s time for the US president to settle the internal divisions within Washington and stick to the obligations in the peace deal with Russia. “We need leadership from Obama,” Shoebridge concluded.