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Sunday 17 December 2017

Russia issues warning over response to ceasefire violators in Syria

Vladimir Putin last week recalled some Russian warplanes from Syria
Vladimir Putin last week recalled some Russian warplanes from Syria

Russia has warned the United States that it will start responding to ceasefire violations in Syria unilaterally if the US refuses to coordinate rules of engagement against violators.

The Russian military has accused the US of dragging its feet on responding to Moscow's proposals on joint monitoring of a Syria ceasefire.

A top Russian general said at the weekend that further delays are leading to civilian casualties, such as in Aleppo where 67 civilians reportedly have been killed by militant fire since the truce started.

Lieutenant general Sergei Rudskoi, of the Russian General Staff, said in a statement on Monday that Russia will have to use force unilaterally because the US, in talks with Russia last week, had refused to coordinate a joint response.

"The American side was not ready for this particular discussion and for the approval of the agreement," the statement quoted him as saying.

The ceasefire that began on February 27, brokered by Russia and the US, has helped significantly reduce hostilities. The Islamic State group and the al Qaida-linked Nusra Front have been excluded from the truce.

Russian president Vladimir Putin last week recalled some Russian warplanes from Syria, but said the action against the Islamic State group and the al Qaida-linked Nusra Front will continue.

A US official contended the issues were being discussed "in a constructive manner".

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, the US official in Geneva said: "We have seen the media reports on alleged Russian concerns over ceasefire violations. Whoever is making such statements must be misinformed, because these issues have been discussed at length already, and continue to be discussed, in a constructive manner."

Press Association

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