U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Syrian troops and officials for blocking deliveries and stealing from others and called on the government to "try to show some measure of decency, if that is even possible."Speaking after meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, he said both the regime and opposition may have violated the recently reached cease-fire in the war-torn country, yet added that the breaches have not been significant enough to shatter the three-day-old "cessation of hostilities."
"It's obvious that the next few days are going to be critical in determining whether or not we are able to develop some real momentum towards a de-escalation of the conflict," Kerry said. "That is the goal here. And we're, of course, under no illusions about the obstacles that still exist."
"It is not a surprise that someone might see an airplane flying or an airplane even dropping a bomb. The question is, where have they dropped it and who is underneath it. And that is the real test of how this plays out over the course of the next days," Kerry said.
Kerry said he spoke by telephone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the two are committed to dealing with reported transgressions.
Yet, regime forces backed by Russian airpower have reportedly continued to strike opposition positions in Syria, targeting villages in the west-central Hama province and the northwestern Aleppo province, killing civilians, according to local sources.
On Tuesday, Kerry said that Syria could fail in staying a unified country if the planned cessation of hostilities does not successfully pause the country's five-year conflict.
"It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria if we wait much longer," Kerry said in congressional testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But he did not advocate partition of the country.
Just days before the cessation of hostilities went into effect at midnight Saturday, Kerry acknowledged that he was not confident of its success.
"I'm not going to say this process is sure to work because I don't know," Kerry said.
That sentiment is also held by U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. "I think there's a certain dose of skepticism, and again, the secretary will be watching like everyone else to see whether or not Russia complies with this agreement, whether others comply as well," spokesman Peter Cook told reporters.
Still, Kerry insisted that the tentative halt to hostilities be given ample time to play out.
"This is a moment to try to see whether or not we can make this work," he said. "Not to find ways to preordain its failure and start talking about all the downsides of what we might do afterward."
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