Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Syrian Opposition Figure Slams Russia for Continued Bombing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Syrian Opposition Figure Slams Russia for Continued Bombing

Article excerpt

MUNICH * A top Syrian opposition figure criticized Russia on Sunday for continuing with its bombing in Syria.

The head of the Saudi-backed Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee, former Prime Minister Riad Hijab, also stopped short of declaring a clear commitment to implement a planned temporary truce.

"You ask me if I accept a cease-fire or a cessation of hostilities. I ask you: why is the onus on the opposition and whether it has preconditions for negotiations?" Hijab said. "I would like to see a single day of a cessation of hostilities in order to give a chance for real political movement."

Diplomats from a group of countries that have interests in Syria's five-year civil war, including the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, agreed on Friday to seek a temporary "cessation of hostilities" within a week. They also agreed to "accelerate and expand" deliveries of humanitarian aid to besieged Syrian communities beginning this week.

It remains unclear whether those commitments can be made to stick on the ground and whether deep differences regarding the truce and which groups would be eligible for it between the U.S. and Russia among others can be overcome.

The truce deal in Munich comes as Syrian government forces, aided by a Russian bombing campaign, are trying to encircle rebels in Aleppo, the country's largest city, and cut off their supply route to Turkey.

Hijab questioned whether the continued fighting by Russia was "a seriously acceptable position to the international community."

"We have gotten used to conferences and words put into hope, but what we need is action and the action that I see is that Russia is killing Syrian civilians," Hijab told the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of foreign and security policy leaders.

McCAIN ASSAILS TRUCE

Speaking before Hijab, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. …

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