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U.S. Says Russia Must Clarify Syrian Statement Cease-Fire Over


The United States says it's prepared to extend a cease-fire in Syria despite violations but called on Russia to clarify a statement by the Syrian Army that the truce was over.

"We will be consulting with our Russian counterparts to continue to urge them to use their influence on [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad to these ends. While we have seen comments attributed to the Syrian military, our arrangement is with Russia, which is responsible for the Syrian regime's compliance, so we expect Russia to clarify their position," U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a September 19 statement.

"Despite continued attacks by the regime on opposition positions, we have witnessed a measure of reduced violence over the last week," Kirby added.

In a statement issued, the Syrian military said that "armed terrorist groups" repeatedly violated the week-old cease-fire.

It said the armed groups took advantage of the truce to mobilize and arm themselves while attacking government-held areas.

Russia's Defense Ministry earlier said it considered it "pointless" for government forces to uphold a cease-fire while they are being attacked by rebels.

"Considering that the conditions of the cease-fire are not being respected by the rebels, we consider it pointless for the Syrian government forces to respect it unilaterally," Russian Defense Ministry official Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy told a briefing on September 19.

The ministry said its monitors on the ground had registered 53 cease-fire violations in Syria over the past 24 hours.

There is information that moderate Syrian opposition groups are merging with "terrorist groups" and preparing joint attacks, the ministry claimed.

The deal, brokered by the United States and Russia, took effect on September 12.

But repeated violations and no aid deliveries to the besieged rebel-held part of the northern city of Aleppo have led to concerns that it could unravel.

A halt to fighting around Aleppo and the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid were key components of the truce deal.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry described the cessation of hostilities as "holding but fragile."

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP
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