Russia ready to use military force against violators of Syria ceasefire

Russia is ready to unilaterally use military force starting March 22 against the armed groups systematically violating Syria’s ceasefire if Moscow gets no US response to its proposals on controlling the ceasefire regime, head of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff Sergey Rudskoy said on Monday.

He said that Russia had sent the corresponding proposals on February 25.

The draft agreement reflected a mechanism of consultations between Russia and the United States in the event of the breach of the ceasefire regime, and also the procedure of the use of military force against the formations systematically violating their commitments they had assumed, Rudskoi said.

‘We believe that these procedures will help develop an effective mechanism for control and containment of truce violators in Syria," Rudskoy said.

"After receiving the US position on this document, we developed and sent a compromise draft agreement to the United States on March 5," the official noted.

"Also, the Russian side proposed holding expert consultations within the shortest time possible on agreeing its text," he added.

He also said that the Russian-US consultations in Amman on March 18 demonstrated the US is not ready to discuss suggestions on control over ceasefire regime in Syria.

"The Russian-US consultations, which took place in Amman on March 18, demonstrate the American side is not ready for a focused discussion and work on the agreement's text," he said. "The delays with bringing into force of the agreed rules for reacting to violations of the ceasefire regime in Syria are not acceptable. Every day, provocations and shelling there kill civilians."

"If the Russian Federation gets no response from the United States to these proposals, it will proceed starting March 22 to unilateral application of the rules specified in the Agreement… We emphasize that military force will be used only after we receive credible evidence of systematic violations by armed groups of the commitments made within the framework of the Joint US-Russian statement on the cessation of hostilities in Syria as of February 22, 2016. Military force will not be used against the groups, observing the ceasefire regime, as well as against the civilian population and civilian facilities", Rudskoy said.

On Saturday, the Russian center said that Russian and US representatives discussed in Amman the situation over ceasefire observance and humanitarian deliveries to those districts of the Damascus province that were hit most in combat operations. On Sunday, March 20, the Russian center said: "Telephone talks have been held between the command of the Russian center for reconciliation [at the Hmeimim base] and the US reconciliation center in Amman. The sides expressed concern over ceasefire violation in the provinces of Latakia and Hama."

A ceasefire regime brokered by Russia and the United States on February 22 officially came into effect in Syria at midnight Damascus time on February 27. This does not cover terrorist groups such as Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, both outlawed in Russia, and other groups recognized as terrorist by the United Nations Security Council.

An hour before the ceasefire came into force, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution in support cessation of hostilities in Syria. The document was initiated by Russia and the United States and won support from all the 15 members of the United Nations’ Security Council.

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