20:40 GMT28 November 2020
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    A former Pentagon official has advised Washington to believe Moscow’s announcement that it is ready to use force unilaterally to punish Syrian ceasefire violators starting from March 22; however, he isn't certain US officials will heed his advice.

    Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst for the US Secretary of Defense, has advised US authorities not to doubt Moscow’s seriousness in announcing that it is ready to unilaterally use force on Syrian ceasefire violators starting from March 22.

    In his interview with the news channel RT, Maloof said that there is no coordinated activity on the part of the US to induce some of the rebel groups to observe the ceasefire.

    The former Pentagon official explained that the US does not have a clear strategy regarding these groups. On the one hand, he said, Washington wants these groups to fight against Daesh, however in the long run they may end up fighting against President Assad.

    Maloof therefore advised the US authorities to seriously regard Moscow’s readiness to unilaterally use force on Syrian ceasefire violators. However, he admitted that he is not sure they will heed to his advice.

    Michael Maloof had already commented earlier in March on the proposal of the head of US Central Command General Lloyd Austin to start training Syria's so-called moderate rebels again.

    “Well, I think the Pentagon is trying to resurrect a dead horse. There is no way of telling who the good guys and the bad guys are in terms of the so-called opposition. I don’t know why the Pentagon wants to come back and resurrect something that was an abysmal failure much earlier. Because the problem still stands that you cannot actually identify who the bad guys really are,” he told RT.

    On Monday, Russia’s General Staff stated that the US is not ready to "substantively discuss and agree upon the text of a document which will regulate the ceasefire in Syria".

    The statement on the Russian General Staff's website says that Russia may begin to unilaterally employ military force against groups for “systematically” violating the truce deal on the cessation of hostilities in Syria which was backed by both Russia and the US, if the US does not do its part to control the situation.

    “If there is no reaction from the US to our proposals [on the control of ceasefire], starting from March 22 Russia will unilaterally apply rules provisioned in the [cessation of hostilities] deal,” the chief of the Russian General Staff’s main operations department, Sergey Rudskoy, said on Monday.

    The announcement was echoed by a statement released by Russia’s Foreign Ministry, which said that although Moscow is satisfied with the level of Russia-US cooperation on Syrian ceasefire, "it is dangerous and counterproductive" to endlessly drag out the creation of a mechanism on coordinated reaction from the members of the International Syria Support Group to ceasefire violations in Syria.

    "We do not rule out the possibility that we could be forced to take unilateral action against militants who do not respect the ceasefire regime," the statement said.

    The ceasefire, subject to a deal between Russia and the US, came into force on February 27. It excludes Daesh, al-Nusra Front and other groups deemed to be terrorist organizations.


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