Tags: Obama | blames | aleppo | Assad | russia

Obama Pins Blame for 'Atrocities' in Aleppo on Assad, Russia

Image: Obama Pins Blame for 'Atrocities' in Aleppo on Assad, Russia

 (AP)

Friday, 16 Dec 2016 03:38 PM

President Barack Obama said his administration would press for a broader cease-fire in Syria and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Aleppo, and placed blame for atrocities in the city on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies.

"The responsibility for this brutality lies in one place alone," Obama said at his last annual end-of-the-year news conference at the White House on Friday. "This blood and these atrocities are on their hands."

Aleppo fell to Assad’s forces, backed by Russian air power, earlier this week.

Critics of the president, including his successor, Donald Trump, have advocated for greater U.S. involvement in the war. In a speech Thursday night in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Trump said he would establish safe zones within Syria paid for by neighboring Gulf States.

"I will get the Gulf States to give us lots of money, and we’ll build and help build safe zones in Syria, so people can have a chance," Trump said. "So they can have a chance."

Safe Zones

Obama has dismissed the idea of safe zones, arguing that it would require a massive investment of U.S. forces and money and raise the risk of a military confrontation with Russia. Secretary of State John Kerry estimated earlier this year that establishing Syrian safe zones would require between 15,000 and 30,000 U.S. troops.

Building safe zones could also distract from the effort to combat Islamic State forces within Syria and make it harder to reach a political settlement ending the country’s six-year long civil war, the White House has said.

Instead, Obama condemned the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian backers over their brutal assault on Aleppo, which has seen schoolyards and hospitals bombed and countless civilian casualties. Tens of thousands of rebels and residents are now evacuating the city under a ceasefire deal brokered by Russia and Turkey.

But their fate remains uncertain, with the possibility of retribution or conscription by Assad’s forces looming over the evacuation.

‘Impartial’ Force

Obama said Friday that an "impartial observer force" should supervise the evacuation of civilians and rebels from Aleppo through "safe corridors" and ensure that humanitarian aid is delivered.

A "broader cease-fire" could "serve as a basis of a political rather than military solution," he said. "Over the long term, the Assad regime cannot slaughter its way to legitimacy."

Multiple ceasefire agreements between Russia and the U.S. that would end fighting between Assad’s forces and rebel fighters have been ignored.

Obama has faced criticism from within his own administration over his reluctance to intervene in Syria, as well. Kerry has said that the president’s decision not to seek congressional approval to take direct military action after Syria violated his "red line" by using chemical weapons cost the U.S. diplomatic capital. And this summer, more than 50 diplomats at the State Department signed a letter criticizing the president’s Syria policy and encouraging military strikes against the Assad regime.

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President Barack Obama said his administration would press for a broader cease-fire in Syria and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Aleppo, and placed blame for atrocities in the city on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies.
Obama, blames, aleppo, Assad, russia
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2016-38-16
Friday, 16 Dec 2016 03:38 PM
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