US asks Syria to stick to political transition timeline

Washington: The US has asked Syria's Assad regime and its international backers, including Russia and Iran, to stick to the agreed transition timeline of 1 August and warned that they risk facing consequences of a different American approach if they do not comply.

"I've said that before, I have said it to (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin, I've said it to others: It will not hold unless there is a bonafide effort to put in place a transition,"US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters at the State Department.

"We are getting into the period, folks...the target date for the transition is the 1st of August. So we're now coming up to May. So either something happens in these next few months or they are asking for a very different track," Kerry said in response to a question.

File photo. AP

US asks Syria to stick to transition timeline. File photo. AP

Condemning the recent spike in violence in Syria, Kerry said the cessation of hostilities was put in place precisely to give the people on the ground, who are caught between these warring factions, some breather, some ability to be able to be
safe and work this out at the negotiating table, which is waiting for the parties to come back to it in order to resolve this issue.

The US and its partners, Kerry said, have a responsibility to work with the opposition to keep it from breaking the cessation or from engaging in any acts that put civilians at risk.

Likewise, Iran and Russia have a particular responsibility that they assumed.

"We all signed the same agreement and we all supported the same UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which calls for a nationwide cessation of hostilities and it calls for a nationwide, full delivery of humanitarian assistance within all of Syria," Kerry said.

Russia, he said, has an ability to impact this. The United States has an ability to impact it.

"We continue to remain committed to working towards a political transition away from (Bashar al-)Assad because only if you transition away can you actually end this war,"said the top American diplomat.

"As we work to get the cessation back on track, we are also working to get the full humanitarian access -- not just the cessation, but accompanied with full humanitarian access," he said.

Kerry said the US and the international community knows beyond a doubt that the Syrian regime continues to block food and medical supplies from getting to the people who are in desperate need and from and that includes actually removing critical medicines and surgical supplies from those deliveries.

"So as a result, some of the areas of the Damascus suburbs have not received any supplies in years. That, I think, is unconscionable and it really has to stop," he said.

Updated Date: May 04, 2016 11:03 AM

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