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Kerry threatens Russia with end to joint Syria diplomacy

Published:Thursday | September 29, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Secretary of State John Kerry

WASHINGTON DC (AP):

Secretary of State John Kerry threatened yesterday to end all cooperation between the United States and Russia to stop Syria's civil war, unless Russian and Syrian government attacks on Aleppo end. More than 250 people are believed to have been killed in the besieged city in the last week.

Kerry's warning came in a telephone call Wednesday to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the State Department said, describing the latest US ultimatum in Syria's 51/2-year conflict. Many have gone unfulfilled, including President Barack Obama's declaration that the US would take military action if Syrian President Bashar Assad crossed the "red line" of using chemical weapons.

It was unclear what effect Kerry's words would have.

"The burden remains on Russia to stop this assault and allow humanitarian access to Aleppo and other areas in need," Kerry told Lavrov, according to State Department spokesman John Kirby.

Kerry said the US is preparing to "suspend US-Russia bilateral engagement on Syria," including talks on a possible counter-extremist partnership, "unless Russia takes immediate steps to end the assault on Aleppo and restore" a ceasefire.

Government shelling and airstrikes landed near a bread-distribution centre and two hospitals in Aleppo on Wednesday. Activists and medics reported several people killed. They said at least one of the medical facilities was no longer operable, leaving the country's biggest city with only six functioning hospitals.