UPDATE: Russia orders more airstrikes in Syria, defying US

UPDATE – 5:53 p.m. EST:  According to a Russian media outlet, the Kremlin has ordered more air attacks targeting rebel groups in Syria in the face of warnings from the U.S.

However, on Friday, the U.S. backed away from threats made Wednesday to halt diplomatic efforts attempting to renegotiate a ceasefire agreement with Russia over the Syrian civil war if the bombing in Aleppo continued.

“This leaves us with zero credibility in the Arab world and Turkey and no respect in Russia and beyond,” said an anonymous U.S. official. “It’s another red line,” that hasn’t been enforced.

The West is now accusing Russia of war crimes after a ceasefire agreement with the U.S. ended Sept. 19 with the subsequent targeting of civilians and medical infrastructure in Aleppo.

 

The Obama administration warned the Kremlin Wednesday of its intent to quit bilateral talks over Syria barring an immediate halt to the Russian aerial assault over Aleppo following a U.S.-Russian-brokered ceasefire, which ended Sept. 19.

Since the Sept. 12 cessation of hostilities collapsed, Syrian troops aided by Russian airstrikes have intensified a ground assault against rebel-held sections of Aleppo.

In a Wednesday phone call to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry demanded Russia end its bombing campaign and informed his counterpart America holds Russia liable for their alleged use of incendiary bombs on the besieged city.

Responding to Mr. Kerry’s final demand, Mr. Lavrov said Washington-backed rebel groups rejected the ceasefire from the onset and drew closer to militant groups, notably the  al-Nusra Front (Jabhat Fateh al-Sham).

Since the truce fell apart one week ago, over 170 civilians have been killed and a further 200 injured in bombing attacks.

The diplomatic impasse has inspired calls for the U.S. to weigh arming Syrian opposition groups with anti-aircraft weaponry, fueling fears the conflict could escalate.  Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters the administration was considering all options, including alternatives “outside diplomacy.”

On Thursday, in defiance of Kerry’s warnings, the Kremlin stated it has no intention of suspending its air campaign; however, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized the Kremlin was committed to engaging with the U.S. in diplomacy to resolve the crisis in Syria.

 

[BBC] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy Thomas Rassloff via Daily Mail]