US and Russia trade accusations over who is to blame as airstrikes continue and aid convoys remain blocked by Syrian troops
With no assistance delivered, fresh airstrikes and little sign of a mooted joint control room, the Russian-US ceasefire in Syria appears to be falling apart a week after it began.
However, both Washington and Moscow were on Monday clinging on to hope that the latest effort to end the Syrian war could gain a solid footing, despite trading bitter accusations about who is to blame.
Central to the decay in trust is the failure to deliver food, water and medical supplies to opposition-held eastern Aleppo, the entrance to which remained blocked by Syrian troops seven days after a escort of trucks carrying desperately needed assistance assembled at the Turkish border.
The US said it could not confirm Russian reports that Syrian troops had partly withdrawn to allow access. Rebel groups gratified UN officials over the weekend imploring them to find a way to get the trucks moving.
The armed opponent gratified the UN and collaborated positively with them on logistical and security arrangements, said an official within the Syrian opponent. The problem now is the Assad regime and the Russians.
The regime is not willing to give the drivers of the aid lorries permits to travel through its territory nor has it recede its forces from the Castello Road as per the US-Russian agreement. The Russians, on the other hand, have not stopped bombing Aleppo, including towns and villages along the proposed route of delivery. All this builds delivery of aid next to impossible.
Meanwhile, Turkey on Monday vowed to create a 5,000 sq km safe zone inside Syria, partly fulfilling a demand it had repeatedly made of the international community throughout the five-year war.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoan, said the move would mean building roads, homes and hospitals, which would mark a dramatic increase in the countrys involvement in Syria a month after Turkish forces-out intersected the border ostensibly in pursuit of Islamic State( Isis) extremists. The safe haven would not involve a no-fly zone a key demand that Erdoan had made of the US president, Barack Obama.
We have been planning to build houses and social facilities in a safe zone in northern Syria, Erdoan said. It has not happened up to now. But I hope we can do so from now on.
The Turkish incursion has opened three fronts, one against the terror group, the other against Syrian Kurdish forces-out, and a third in providing more direct a link with armed Arab opposition groups that have fought the Assad regime throughout the war.
Some of the Turkish-backed groups had been asked to disentangle themselves from jihadi groups that are active in parts of the war for the north. Rebel leaders have said that while the jihadis, such as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, do not represent them, they have offered security in the absence of further process.
Turkish troops, backed by opponent divisions and US special forces, are planning to advance on the town of al-Bab, the western-most urban stronghold controlled under Isis. The pushing could start within a week and is at least partially is targeted at confiscating the terror groups foreign intelligence limb, which has its headquarters in the town.
The Paris and Brussels attacks were plotted from al-Bab, where one of the plots most senior leaders, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, was killed in late August.
The fate of the ceasefire is due to be debated at the UN official records of the general assembly later on Monday, where the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the US secretary of state, John Kerry, are again expected to explore ways to secure it.
Before the meet, the UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Stephen OBrien, said: I am pained and disappointed that a United Nations convoy has yet to traverse into Syria from Turkey and safely reach eastern Aleppo.
The United Nations continues to call for unconditional, unimpeded and sustained access to the millions of Syrian humen, women and children in hard-to-reach and besieged locations.
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