Putin unsure of U.S. commitment to Syria cease-fire amid increased attacks

ALEPPO, Syria, Sept. 17 (UPI) — Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed concern Saturday about the United States’ commitment to upholding the cease-fire agreement in Syria.

Putin said Washington was deviating from its own call for openness and chided the United States for not releasing terms of the cease-fire, according to Voice of America.

“I don’t really understand why we have to keep such an agreement closed,” Putin said.

Putin also suggested the U.S. was taking a “very dangerous route” trying to maintain the combat potential of rebels fighting the Syrian government and expressed that the U.S. could not separate moderate rebels from “the half-criminal and terrorist elements.”

Gen. Viktor Poznikhir said the rebel groups had “not met a single obligation” of the truce as 55 attacks from rebel groups, some backed by the U.S., occurred over the past 24 hours, leading to the deaths of 12 civilians, the BBC reported.

“If the American side does not take the necessary measures to carry out its obligations…a breakdown of the ceasefire will be on the United States,” Poznikhir said. “The United States and the so-called moderate groups they control have not met a single obligation they assumed in the framework of the Geneva agreement.”

Both sides had agreed to plan joint attacks on the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham group if the cease-fire held for seven days.

These plans were strained when increased conflict during the period of non-hostile behavior beginning with the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on Monday halted the delivery of at least 20 trucks providing food and medicine and other humanitarian aid to Aleppo.

State Department Spokesman John Kirby blamed the Syrian government for the holdup, which kept the trucks at a checkpoint at the Turkish border.

“Those trucks should be going in and that aid should be getting delivered with or without the arrangement that was arrived at in Geneva,” Kirby said. “It is the [Syrian] regime that is blocking the movement.”

The United Nations said it had not yet received permits from the Syrian government and conditions were not yet safe enough for the vehicles to cross.

“We know that there’s at least a quarter of a million people in eastern Aleppo who are potentially all of them in need of some kind of aid,” U.N. humanitarian office spokesman Jens Laerke said. “We are as ready to go as we can possibly be.,,it’s highly frustrating – we know the whole world is watching.”

The White House said the next part of the deal between the U.S. and Russia would not move forward until the aid began to move freely.

“The United States will not proceed with the next steps in the arrangement with Russia until we see seven continuous days of reduced violence and sustained humanitarian access,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement to his National Security Council.

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