The U.S. “patience is not unlimited” when it comes to efforts with Russia to put the political process back on track back in Syria, the State Department said Wednesday.
If a truce in Syria falls apart, it will lead to a “return to conflict and a return to a situation that … we felt like we were making progress moving away from”, agency spokesman Mark Toner said during a press briefing.
According to Toner, efforts by the International Syria Support Group’s (ISSG) helped decrease violence and allow some humanitarian aid to be delivered in Syria. However, he added, those attempts are not enough to solve the problem.
“It hasn’t been sustained and it hasn’t been complete,” he stressed.
A cessation of hostilities deal was signed in February to stop nationwide violence in Syria. But the agreement has been violated several times by Assad regime with the killing hundreds of civilians and attacks on humanitarian facilities in Syria.
The ceasefire deal is also a precondition for the Syrian opposition to attend political talks in Geneva.
Kerry made several references to a “plan B” option for Syria during congressional testimony in March.
He said if the truce failed, the U.S. military would consider another campaign to support the Syrian opposition that would weaken Assad.
“This could get a lot uglier,” he said at the time.
Toner said the U.S. was not yet at the stage of considering that alternative.
The White House has a stated goal to admit 10,000 Syrians into the U.S. as the crisis overseas has led to an overwhelming number of refugees in the region.
Russia not seeking political transition in Syria
Bashar al-Assad, the current Syrian president and the root cause of the Syrian crisis, said he has never faced pressure from Russia to step aside, as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Moscow seeking to revive stalled peace efforts.
Speaking to NBC News in Damascus, Assad insisted his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had never raised the issue of his departure or a political transition.
“Only the Syrian people define who’s going to be the president, when to come, and when to go. They never said a single word regarding this,” he said.
Assad’s fate is a key question in efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement to Syria’s five-year civil war.