The conflict in Syria has grown increasingly dire as diplomatic efforts to stem the tide of violence come up short. On Thursday, the Russian government rejected U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s demand for an end to bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo, a key battleground in the fight between the Syrian government and rebel forces.
Kerry denounced the bombing of Aleppo as “inexcusable,” and “beyond the pale,” on Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum, presented by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute. The secretary of state defended the administration’s attempts to seek a political settlement to the conflict, but did not present an optimistic view that diplomacy will prevail anytime soon. “Under those kinds of circumstances, it is not possible to cooperate,” he told Steve Clemons, referring to the bombing of Aleppo. Kerry added: “We’re on the verge of suspending the discussion. It’s irrational in the context of the kind of bombing taking place to be sitting there and trying to take things seriously.”
The United States and Russia announced a cease-fire agreement earlier this month, but the deal has since crumbled. An intense campaign of Syrian and Russian airstrikes in Aleppo began at the end of last week. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Thursday proposed a 48-hour pause in fighting, which, The New York Times reports, the U.S. is “likely to reject.”