US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave remarks to the press, and expressed Washington’s desire to undermine the Idlib ceasefire, agreed between Russia and Turkey.
“Additionally, we believe Russia has killed dozens of Turkish military personnel in the course of their military operations, and we stand with our NATO ally Turkey and will continue to consider additional measures to support Turkey and to end the violence in Idlib and in Syria more broadly.”
Thus, he alleged that Russia itself killed “dozens of Turkish soldiers”
Earlier in the day, Syrian Defense Minister Lieutenant General Ali Abdullah Ayoub was sanctioned by the US, for “perpetuating the violence and the disastrous humanitarian crisis inside of Syria. His deliberate actions since December of 2019 have prevented a ceasefire from taking hold inside of Syria. The obstruction resulted in the displacement of almost a million people in dire need of humanitarian aid in the midst of a cold winter in Idlib.”
Of course, the “bloody Assad regime” is, also, not the only one to blame – since plenty of guilt lies in its enablers – Russia and Iran.
“The Assad regime’s forces, backed by Russia and Iranian-supported forces, have been responsible for the continued bombardments that destroyed schools and hospitals and killed civilians, including medical professionals and first responders who were risking their lives to save others inside of Syria.”
Ayoub has been added to the department’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Person List and any of his assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction have been frozen. Americans are now generally prohibited from conducting business with him.
Earlier, United States Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey said that if the Idlib ceasefire falls through, Washington and its allies may target Russia with sanctions, since it would be to blame for any such scenario.
“So our goal is to inventory here in Brussels with our European and NATO colleagues what are the military, the diplomatic, the economic, the sanctions, and the media and outreach steps we can take to encourage Russia and Syria not to do what we think they want to do, which is to break the ceasefire, push these 3 million refugees across the border, but rather to think twice. If they ignore our warnings, if they ignore our preparations and move forward, we will then react as rapidly as possible in consultation with our European and NATO allies on what the package of sanctions and other reactions will be.”
Thus, the US is actively working to undermine the deal, and at the same time says that if the deal fails, Russia would be to blame and would be sanctioned for it.
It should be reminded that on December 17th, 2019, US Senate lawmakers, in a bipartisan vote, approved a $738 billion Pentagon budget, which included an authorization for punishing new sanctions on the Syrian government.
It also included legislation known as the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2019, the bill includes legislation authorizing sanctions within six months on Syria government officials, military and civilian leaders.
International energy companies seeking to redevelop Syria’s oil sector could be a target as well as any company that provides parts for aircraft, including helicopters. Even entities that loan money to the Syrian government could be sanctioned.
On March 17th, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also held a teleconference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The four discussed various topics, and notably actions against the COVID-19 and Idlib was also discussed.
“We found opportunity to extensively evaluate many topics ranging from fight against coronavirus and the humanitarian situation in [Syria’s] Idlib, to solutions to Syria crisis, matter of asylum seekers and Turkey-EU relations at the summit,” Erdogan said on Twitter following the summit.
“In this difficult process that we pass through at the regional and global level, we will operate diplomacy and cooperation mechanisms more actively, and we will resolutely continue our efforts to resolve problems as soon as possible,” he added.