US halts Syria talks with Russia as air strikes destroy major hospital in Aleppo
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Air strikes destroyed a major hospital in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Monday, a medical relief group said, as the US announced it had formally suspended talks with Russia on trying to end the conflict in the war-torn country.
The M10 hospital in Aleppo’s rebel-held east was "completely destroyed" following multiple strikes over the past week, according to the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), which supports the facility.
"The hospital is now not usable at all," said SAMS spokesman Adham Sahloul. "It is not salvageable, per reports from the staff and doctors there.”
He said three maintenance workers were killed in the air strikes.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group confirmed that the hospital had been razed after "being directly targeted by air raids".
News of the hospital’s destruction came as the United States announced that it was suspending talks with Russia on trying to end the violence in Syria, accusing Moscow of failing to live up to its commitments under a recent ceasefire agreement.
Little hope of a diplomatic solution
“The United States is suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that were established to sustain the cessation of hostilities,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “This is not a decision that was taken lightly.”
The confirmation that the US-Russian talks on Syria have collapsed suggests that there is little hope, if any, of a diplomatic solution to end the 5-1/2-year-old civil war emerging anytime soon.
It could also trigger deeper US consideration of military options such as providing more sophisticated arms, logistical support, and training to Syrian rebel groups.
US President Barack Obama, however, has been loath to further involve the United States in a third war in the Muslim world, and US officials have said he is unlikely to do so with less than four months left in office.
US Secretary of State John Kerry threatened last week to end the talks after a ceasefire he and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, brokered collapsed last month after warplanes believed to belong to Russia bombed a UN aid convoy.
In Monday’s statement, Kirby said the United States would continue to communicate with Russian military to avoid so-called deconfliction – to avoid accidental military interactions – over Syria.
But he said the United States would withdraw all personnel it had dispatched to prepare for military co-operation with Russia under the latest ceasefire agreement.
“Unfortunately, Russia failed to live up to its own commitments ...and was also either unwilling or unable to ensure Syrian regime adherence to the arrangements to which Moscow agreed,” Kirby said.
News of the suspending of the talks came as diplomats said the United Nations Security Council were expected to negotiate on Monday a draft resolution that urges Russia and the United States to ensure an immediate truce in Aleppo.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)