Syria conflict: Russia must act now to end bloodshed, says Fallon

UK defence secretary says Moscow directly complicit in suffering, writing that ‘latest war crime happened on their watch’

A man mourns as White Helmets search for survivors after an airstrike in Saqba

Russia is directly complicit in the bloodshed taking place in Syria and must act immediately to help bring an end to the country’s long-running conflict, the UK defence secretary, has said.

Russia must “show the resolve necessary to bring this regime to heel”, said Michael Fallon in remarks that came a day after Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, cancelled a trip to Moscow after a chemical attack on civilians in Idlib province and the subsequent US missile strike against the Syrian regime.

“The Russians have influence in the region,” Fallon wrote in the Sunday Times. “They helped broker the original deal to put chemical weapons out of commission. This latest war crime happened on their watch. In the past few years, they have had every opportunity to pull levers and stop the civil war.”

Russia was the main backer of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, Fallon said, adding: “By proxy Russia is responsible for every civilian death last week.

“If Russia wants to be absolved of responsibility for future attacks, Vladimir Putin needs to enforce commitments, to dismantle Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal for good, and to get fully engaged with the UN peacekeeping progress.”

Johnson had been scheduled to fly to Moscow on Monday for talks with Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart. But the Foreign Office said the trip had been called off because developments in Syria had “changed the situation fundamentally”.

The international development secretary, Priti Patel said on Sunday the cancellation of the trip did not mean contact with Russia was being cut altogether.

“We are constantly engaging with all our counterparts, and there has been dialogue,” she told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1. “The foreign secretary has engaged with his Russian counterpart previously as well. These discussions are continuous, and that is the right approach.”

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Source By https://www.theguardian.com

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