US ‘Scolds’ Russia, Denies Claims of Talks on Joint Syria Operations

State Department Demands Russia Force Syria to Stop Airstrikes

by Jason Ditz, May 23, 2016

The US State Department has issued more angry statements against Russia today, demanding that they force the Assad government to stop all airstrikes in and around Aleppo, strikes which are focused on al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

The US insisted Russia has a “special responsibility” to force Syria to stop the bombings, and also rejected reports from the Russian Foreign Ministry that talks are ongoing on the possibility of joint US-Russian operations against al-Qaeda.

The US had already spurned Russian offers for such operations last week, insisting they would never work with the Russians under any circumstances. The Pentagon said last week the US has “different military objectives” and would not join the anti-al-Qaeda operations.

Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front has been growing in Syria for months, and took a lot of new territory during the ceasefire, which they were not party to. With reports they plan to declare independence and the founding of a new “emirate” in northern Syria, Russians and Syrian officials are expressing concern that Nusra will quickly grow to be a threat equal to ISIS.

The US, by contrast, has resisted strikes against al-Qaeda for much of the war, with Nusra a close ally to many US-armed factions. Though the US agreed to exclude al-Qaeda from the ceasefire, they also slammed Syria repeatedly for attacking them, even though that was nominally the point of excluding them.

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