U.S. President Barack Obama said he is not optimistic about the future success of a possible cease-fire in Syria despite ongoing talks between the United States and Russia.
Obama, speaking Sunday at the G-20 summit, said he does not think any new deal would last long enough for a political resolution in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the economic summit, said "a couple of tough issues" remain, but did not elaborate. Despite the nearing impasse, Obama said he is committed to continuing efforts.
"It is worth trying," Obama said. "To the extent that there are children and women and innocent civilians who can get food and medical supplies and, you know, get some relief from the constant terror of bombings, that's worth the effort."
"They discussed further steps to favor settlement of the conflict in Syria, including tasks to improve the ceasefire regime and the Russian-U.S. cooperation in fighting terrorist groups," the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Sept. 4.
After the meeting, Kerry told reporters Moscow and Washington still had a couple of outstanding major issues, about which he spoke earlier with Lavrov. He said, heads of the foreign policies’ authorities agreed to have a meeting on Sept. 5 morning to discuss how to overcome the remaining disputes and to approach a common decision.
A Russian fighter jet came within 10 feet of a U.S. Navy surveillance plane in the midst of routine operations in international airspace over the Black Sea, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
The Pentagon slammed the incident as unsafe, the latest in multiple such encounters between Russian and U.S. aircraft or ships.
“We have deep concerns when there is an unsafe maneuver,” a Pentagon official said in a statement. “These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident which results in serious injury or death.”
During Wednesday’s incident, a Russian SU-27 Flanker first maintained a distance of 30 feet, then closed in to within 10 feet of the U.S. P-8A Poseidon, according to the statement.
Russia's military says rebel groups have increased attacks in Syria despite a ceasefire and has urged the US to act or be responsible for its collapse.
Russian generals said attacks by rebels, some US-backed, had increased sharply over the past 24 hours. Gen Viktor Poznikhir said the rebel groups had "not met a single obligation" of the truce.
Later Syrian state media said US-led coalition forces had struck government positions, killing dozens of troops.
They quoted a statement by Syrian army general command as saying coalition jets had bombed a Syrian army position near Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria, and that this was allowing so-called Islamic State (IS) to advance.
The US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power slammed Russia and Syria over the campaign to push out rebels from the city due to the high level of civilian deaths caused by the campaign.
Ms Power said the Russian campaign in support of Bashar al-Assad was not counter-terrorism, but 'barbarism'. The UN Security Council met in New York today to discuss the crisis.
The United Nations special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura told the same meeting he was convinced the situation in Syria could still be turned and said he would not quit, as Russia and the United States try to salvage a ceasefire.
French UN Ambassador Francios Delattre said: 'War crimes are being committed here in Aleppo. They must not be unpunished and impunity is simply not an option in Syria.'
The airstrikes, which began Sept. 30, propped up Syrian President Bashar Assad’s collapsing government, which controlled an ever-shrinking area of the country after more than four years of civil war.
Dozens of warring groups opposed to Damascus — including moderates and jihadists such as Islamic State and the Al Qaeda-allied Nusra Front — were more concerned about fighting each other while government forces kept losing ground and morale. The area held by Assad’s forces had been reduced to territory along Syria’s west and the Mediterranean coast, with several tentacle-like strategic corridors in the central and northern parts of the country.
Russia’s involvement was a surprising game-changer. It reversed the momentum in the war and helped keep Assad in power. From the Russian perspective, it also put a spotlight on perceived American weakness — and certainly put the United States in an awkward position, since it shared the Russian goal of defeating Islamic State and Al Qaeda, but strongly opposed the larger goal of saving Assad.