President Barack Obama said he will not proceed any arrangement with Russia on Syria until he sees seven continuous days of reduced violence and sustained humanitarian access to the war-torn country. “The President emphasised that the United States will not proceed with the next steps in the arrangement with Russia until we see seven continuous days of reduced violence and sustained humanitarian access,” the White House said in a readout of the Situation room meeting Obama held with his national security team to review anti-Islamic State campaign.
During the meeting, which was attended by his top national security tam, Obama expressed deep concern that, despite decreased violence across the country, the Syrian regime continues to block the flow of critical humanitarian aid, the White House said.
“The President directed his team to continue close coordination with all of our partners in the Counter ISIL fight as we build on this momentum to plan operations to further pressure ISIL,” said the readout. According to the White House, Obama was briefed on multiple advances against ISIL that the Coalition has enabled across the battlefield in both Iraq and Syria. The Iraqis have now reclaimed over 50 per cent of the territory once controlled by ISIL. US partners across northern Syria have essentially closed off ISIL’s access to the Syrian border with Turkey and the outside world.
Earlier in the day, the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said there aren’t a lot of good options available to the US. “But the option that has been made available at the President’s direction, thanks largely to the tenacity of Secretary Kerry, is this effort to apply pressure to the Russians to see if they will use the influence that they have with the Assad regime to reduce the violence, allow for the free flow of humanitarian assistance, and facilitate negotiations around a political transition,” he said.
“There are no other legitimate options that have been presented. And it’s not as if there is an alternative that’s been presented by somebody inside the administration or outside, for that matter, that anybody thinks is actually an alternative, long-term solution to this problem,” he said.