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Kerry holds out hope as Syria truce unravels

NEW YORK -- The U.S. says it’s prepared to extend Syria truce despite violations and Syrian announcement it is over.

State Dept spokesman John Kirby issued a statement Monday that the U.S. is prepared to extend the cessation of hostilities, while working to strengthen it and expand deliveries of assistance.  

“We will be consulting with our Russian counterparts to continue to urge them to use their influence on Asad to these ends. While we have seen comments attributed to the Syrian military, our arrangement is with Russia, which is responsible for the Syrian regime’s compliance, so we expect Russia to clarify their position,” according to Kirby.‎  

Secretary of State John Kerry addressed reports that the Syrian military has declared an end to the week-long cease-fire in Syria as well as problems delivering humanitarian aid during the cease-fire..

“We have not had seven days of calm and delivery of humanitarian goods, and so – it’d be good if they didn’t talk first to the press but if they talked to the people who are actually negotiating this,” Kerry said in New York on Monday.

“I think it’s, as I said yesterday, time to end the grandstanding and time to do the real work of delivering on the humanitarian goods that are necessary for access.  So we just began today to see real movement of humanitarian goods, and let’s see where we are, and we’re happy to have a good conversation with them about how to proceed.” 

Syrian activists and residents of the northern city of Aleppo are reporting airstrikes on rebel-held districts hours after the Syrian military declared that a cease-fire had expired.

The activist-operated Aleppo Media Center says suspected government warplanes dropped bombs on a number of rebel-held neighborhoods. Mohammed Khandakani, a resident, says one of the bombs fell near his house in the center of the city.       

The cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia went into effect a week ago, but both sides have been accused of violating it on dozens of occasions. Activists and residents also reported airstrikes on rebel-held parts of Aleppo on Sunday.

The military said insurgents had failed to adhere to the agreement.

Syria’s military command declared the U.S-Russian brokered cease-fire over, blaming the country’s rebel groups for undermining the agreement.

In a statement Monday, the Syrian military said that “armed terrorist groups” repeatedly violated the cease-fire which came into effect last week. It said the armed groups also took advantage of the truce to mobilize and arm themselves while attacking government-held areas. The statement said the rebels wasted a “real chance” to stop the bloodshed.

Activists and rebel groups also accuse the government of violating the cease-fire. The U.N. said the Syrian government has obstructed the delivery of aid, a key component of the deal.

Despite largely holding this week, the cease-fire was repeatedly violated by both sides, and aid convoys have not reached besieged rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and one-time commercial center, which has been the center of violence in recent months. Aid delivery to Aleppo was a key part of the U.S.-Russia cease-fire deal.  

An air raid by the U.S.-led coalition killed dozens of Syrian soldiers and led to a harsh verbal attack on Washington by Damascus and Moscow. The U.S. military admitted it might have unintentionally struck Syrian troops while carrying out a raid against ISIS in eastern Syria on Saturday, and expressed regret over the loss of life.