WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. will respond to violations of a “cessation of hostilities” deal reached on Syria, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.
“We will be keeping a close eye on who abides by it and who does not,” said Peter Cook.
“And we will be in a position to say, clearly and to respond, if necessary, if there are violations of that cessation of hostilities,” he added without specifying how the U.S. would respond.
Cook’s remarks come amid some domestic criticism that the Obama administration did not negotiate a strong enough deal in Munich, Germany, that is supposed to halt fighting and allow humanitarian access into Syrian besieged towns.
Republican Sen. John McCain said the administration has left the implementation of the Munich deal in the hands of Russia by watching Moscow drive U.S. backed opposition fighters out of their strongholds.
“We will assess the cessation of hostilities and whether or not the parties have agreed to it, and we will adjust accordingly,” Cook said.
“I’m not going to predict what it is we’re going to do if that takes place, but you can be sure it’s going to factor into our decision making going forward, the coalition as a whole.”
But a Pentagon official told Anadolu Agency that the Defense Department will not take military action if any party breaks the deal but will make adjustments with respect to U.S. partners fighting Daesh on the ground.
Cease-fires are not enforced through military responses, but are based on mutual commitments, the official said, noting that the Pentagon has no role in the agreement reached in Munich.
Apart from Russian airstrikes and regime forces, Syrian Kurdish PYD forces are also attacking opposition strongholds of Azaz and Tal Rifat in the northern outskirts of Aleppo. Azaz is located just 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the Turkish border.
Cook characterized the fight between PYD and opposition forces as “a complicated situation”. “We’ve urged those forces not to take advantage of the situation on the ground,” he said.
“We have urged everyone to de-escalate the situation, the tensions along the Turkish border. And again, that includes reaching out to Turkey and to players on the ground, as well,” Cook said, reiterating Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks telling Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that the U.S. is discouraging the PYD from “exploiting circumstances on the ground to grab additional territory”.