Russia Might Use Force Against Cease-Fire Violators in Syria

MOSCOW (AP) -
Russian officers talk over a map in the Russian military coordination center at Hemeimeem air base in Syria, Friday, March 4, 2016. The Russian military says it has been in regular contact with the U.S. counterparts on monitoring the Russian- and U.S.-brokered cease-fire has begun last weekend. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Russian officers consult over a map in the Russian military coordination center at Hemeimeem air base in Syria, March 4. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Russia on Monday warned the United States that it will start responding to cease-fire violations in Syria unilaterally, starting Tuesday, if the U.S. refuses to coordinate rules of engagement against the violators.

The Russian military have accused the U.S. of dragging its feet on responding to Moscow’s proposals on joint monitoring of a cease-fire in Syria. A top Russian general said on the weekend that further delays are leading to civilian casualties, like in Aleppo where 67 civilians reportedly have been killed by terrorist fire since the truce started.

Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian General Staff said in a statement on Monday that Russia will have to use force unilaterally because the U.S., in talks with Russia last week, had refused to coordinate a joint response.

“The American side was not ready for this particular discussion and for the approval of the agreement,” the statement quoted him as saying.  There was no immediate reaction from U.S. officials.

The Russian- and U.S.-brokered cease-fire that began on Feb. 27 has helped significantly to reduce hostilities. The Islamic State terror group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front have been excluded from the truce.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week recalled some Russian warplanes from Syria, but said the action against the Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front will continue.