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Russia says Syria situation 'worsening', warns US

AFPAFP 17/09/2016

The Russian military said Saturday the situation in Syria was getting worse, blaming rebels for stepping up attacks and saying the United States would be responsible for a breakdown of the ceasefire.

"The situation in Syria is worsening," said Russian General Vladimir Savchenko in a briefing shown on television.

"In the past 24 hours, the number of attacks have risen sharply," with 55 attacks on government positions and civilians, he said.

Twelve civilians died in the attacks, including two children and a Syrian Red Crescent volunteer.

Russian President Vladimir Putin insists Moscow is adhering to its part of the Syria ceasefire agreement © Provided by AFP Russian President Vladimir Putin insists Moscow is adhering to its part of the Syria ceasefire agreement He said Syrian rebels were using the ceasefire to regroup and "are planning to go on the offensive" and that "acts of terror are possible in crucial districts of Aleppo, Damascus, Tartus and Latakia."

"There are constant attacks, failure by the illegal armed groups to uphold the ceasefire regime, and lack of a checkpoint in the eastern part of the Castello road controlled by insurgents does not permit us to ensure safe delivery of humanitarian aid to Aleppo," said General Viktor Poznikhir.

A Syrian boy carries a toy gun past a destroyed building in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli on September 13, 2016 after a truce was brokered by Russia and the US © Provided by AFP A Syrian boy carries a toy gun past a destroyed building in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli on September 13, 2016 after a truce was brokered by Russia and the US

Military officials lashed out at the United States in the strongest language yet over the ceasefire struck last week in Geneva, a last-ditch effort to stop the bloodshed in Syria which has so far lasted five days.

"Russia is exerting all possible effort to restrain government troops from response fire," said Poznikhir.

"If the American side does not take the necessary measures to carry out its obligations... a breakdown of the ceasefire will be on the United States."

Moscow accuses Washington of failing to separate the armed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad from jihadist groups in Syria, and Savchenko, who heads the Russian ceasefire monitoring centre in Syria, said the US "evaded" planned telephone talks Friday.

"Russia initiated extension of the ceasefire by 48 (hours), yesterday it was again extended by 72 hours," said Poznikhir.

"The United States and the so-called moderate groups they control have not met a single obligation they assumed in the framework of the Geneva agreement."

"Without separating (opposition from jihadists), the government troops' hands are tied," he said. "Our repeated messages to the American side are left without a response."

"There is doubt that the US is able to influence the moderate opposition they control and is ready to keep ensuring Geneva agreements."

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