The Associated Press reports: Confusion reigned Monday over Syria’s new cease-fire as Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States and Russia could permit President Bashar Assad’s government to launch new airstrikes against al-Qaida-linked militants. The State Department quickly reversed itself.
Spokesman John Kirby said later there were no provisions under the nationwide truce for U.S.-Russian authorization of bombing missions by Assad’s forces. “This is not something we could ever envision doing,” he said.
Kerry’s comments at a news conference were the closest any American official had come to suggesting indirect U.S. cooperation with Assad since the civil war started in 2011. President Barack Obama called on Assad to leave power more than five years ago; the U.S. blames the Syrian leader for a war that has killed perhaps a half-million people.
While Kirby called his boss’ remarks “incorrect,” Kerry’s statement reflected the general murkiness of an agreement that hasn’t been presented publicly in written form. The deal came after a marathon negotiation between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last Friday; descriptions by the two diplomats represent the only public explanation of what was agreed to. [Continue reading…]