Kerry warns Assad of ‘repercussions’ if regime breaks truce

US Secretary of State John Kerry warns Syria’s Assad of ‘repercussions’ if truce and transition fail.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry gestures next to United Nations Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland on May 2, 2016.

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad on Tuesday that if he does not adhere to a ceasefire, brokered by Russia and the United States, and move forward with a political transition aimed at ending Syria’s five-year-long war, there will clearly be “repercussions.”

However, Kerry stated that he still hoped diplomatic efforts could restore a nationwide cessation of hostilities deal, agreed on Feb. 27, to include Aleppo, which has felt the burn of escalated fighting in recent weeks.

"If Assad does not adhere to this, there will clearly be repercussions, and one of them may be the total destruction of the ceasefire and then go back to war," Kerry told reporters a day after an emergency meetings in Geneva.

"I don't think Russia wants that. I don't think Assad is going to benefit from that. There may be even other repercussions being discussed," Kerry added without clarifying what he meant by repercussions.

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called on the warring parties in the conflict in Syria to put a cessation of hostilities agreement urgently "back on track" after regime rocket fire killed at least three more civilians overnight in Aleppo, despite the ceasefire being formally extended.

A Syrian Civil Defense member carries a child that survived from under the rubble at a site hit by air strikes in the opposition-held area of Old Aleppo, Syria on April 28, 2016. (Reuters)

On Monday, the Syrian regime announced a 48-hours unilateral ceasefire around Damascus and opposition strongholds following an intense diplomatic push by the US.

US President Barack Obama’s administration officials previously warned Assad of consequences for his action in the country’s long-running civil war, but critics say Washington failed to follow through with a more aggressive response.

Obama also warned earlier in the conflict against the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces, setting a red line that would trigger US military action. But he withdrew a threatened bombing campaign.

Kerry repeated that the US would never accept a transition that included Assad.

"If Assad's strategy is to somehow think he's going to just carve out Aleppo and carve out a section of the country, I got news for you and for him - this war doesn't end," Kerry said.

"It is physically impossible for Assad to just carve out an area and pretend he is somehow going to make it safe while the underlying issues are unresolved in this war,” he added.

Kerry said that the violence in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the civil war began in 2011, was in danger of spiraling out of control without a ceasefire.

"The line they are trying to draw now would prohibit any kind of incursion of Aleppo, it will not allow Aleppo to fall," Kerry said.

Kerry also stated that the ceasefire was holding in areas of Damascus and Latakia region where he said there had been a "meaningful" drop in violence.

TRTWorld and agencies