Unconventional. Cease Fire: Syria; 35 diplomats expelled: no matchup; 45th US President Trump not interested in war
29 Dec 2016
Priebus on Russia: Trump 'Not Interested in Going to War' - Wants to Have 'Relationships'
Thursday on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," while discussing the sanctions President Barack Obama announced today against Russia, incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said while he can not yet comment on President-elect Donald Trump plans to address Russia once in office he did say Trump is "not interested in going to war." Instead he said that Trump was interested in "having relationships."
Priebus said,"I'm not sure what they know, Eric. I mean, they may be privy to information that we don't know. But I also know that, you know, we're not interested in going to war all over the world, either. An so, I think having relationships, building relationships, making things better for Americans is something that President-Elect Trump believes in. Look, you know, we have a long history with Russia. Ronald Reagan used his relationship with Miguel Gorbachev I think to the great benefit of Americans across the country. Ending the Cold War, bringing down the wall in Berlin and achieving an incredible amount of success by using relationships in order to get things done. And so I think that's something we are going to try to do. It's something that President-Elect Trump believes in. And quite frankly, it's all about putting America first and that's what we want to do and that's what he wants to do."
When asked if Trump would reverse Obama's decisions on Israel or sanctions on Russia, Priebus added, "That's going to be up to him and he is going to sit down and talk to his leadership at the Defense Department and State and in the White House and make those decisions. But look it will be a different day."
Syria's nationwide cease-fire holding despite minor violations
BEIRUT - A nationwide Syrian cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey that went into effect at midnight was holding Friday despite minor violations, marking a potential breakthrough in a conflict that has been shredding high-level peace initiatives for over five years.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported clashes early Friday between troops and rebels in the central province of Hama and near the capital, Damascus, but said there have been no reports of civilian casualties since the truce began.
Opposition activist Mazen al-Shami, who is based in the Damascus suburb of Douma, said minor clashes nearby left one rebel wounded. Activist Ahmad al-Masalmeh, in the southern Daraa province, said government forces had opened fire on rebel-held areas.
Several past attempts at halting the fighting have failed. As with previous agreements, the current cease-fire excludes both the al-Qaida-affiliated Fatah al-Sham Front, which fights alongside other rebel factions, and the Islamic State group.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the cease-fire will be guaranteed by both Moscow and Turkey, and the agreement has been welcomed by Iran. Moscow and Tehran provide crucial military support to Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey has long served as a rear base and source of supplies for the rebels.
Russia said the deal was signed by seven of Syria's major rebel factions, though none of them immediately confirmed it, and one denied signing it.
The truce came on the heels of a Russian-Turkish agreement earlier this month to evacuate the last rebels from eastern Aleppo after they were confined to a tiny enclave by a government offensive. The retaking of all of Aleppo marked Assad's greatest victory since the start of the 2011 uprising against his family's four-decade rule.
"The defeat of the terrorists in Aleppo is an important step toward ending the war," Assad said in an interview with TG5, an Italian TV station, adding that the capture of the city does not mean that the war has ended because "terrorists" are still in Syria.
The United States was left out of both agreements, reflecting the deterioration of relations between Moscow and Washington after the failure of previous diplomatic efforts on Syria.
In an interview with TG5, and Italian TV station, Assad said "we are more optimistic, with caution," about the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has suggested greater cooperation with Russia against extremist groups.
"We can say part of the optimism could be related to better relation between the United States and Russia," Assad said, speaking in English.
"Mr. Trump, during his campaign - (said) that his priority is fighting terrorism, and we believe that this is the beginning of the solution, if he can implement what he announced," Assad said in the interview, which was apparently filmed before the cease-fire was announced.
Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency meanwhile quoted the military as saying Russia carried out three airstrikes against Islamic State targets near the northern town of al-Bab, where Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition forces have been battling the extremist group. The strikes indicated that Russia and Turkey may work together to combat IS once the fighting elsewhere in Syria has been halted.
The Turkish military statement quoted by Anadolu did not say when the Russian air strikes took place, but said they killed 12 IS militants.
Separately, 26 IS militants, including some senior commanders, were killed in Turkish airstrikes on al-Bab and the Daglabash region, and some 17 IS targets were destroyed, Anadolu reported. It said a Turkish soldier was kill in a IS attack on troops south of the al-Azrak area.
Turkey sent troops and tanks into northern Syria in August to help opposition forces clear a border area of IS militants and curb the advances of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters, who are also battling the extremist group.
35 diplomats expelled: no matchup; children of U.S. diplomats invited to New Year and Christmas children's parties in the Kremlin:
In a sharp departure from Russia's previous strategy of responding to U.S. sanctions in kind, President Vladimir Putin said Friday he would not kick out American diplomats - one day after President Barack Obama moved to expel 35 Russian intelligence operatives.
Putin said he was already looking ahead to the incoming Trump administration -- but he vowed that Moscow would stand firm. "Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible 'kitchen' diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-U.S. relations based on the policies of the Trump administration," he said in a statement.
The Russian president described the White House actions as "unfriendly," but suggested he would take the high road. "We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year's holidays. Moreover, I invite all children of U.S. diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children's parties in the Kremlin."
Russia's embassy to the U.S. tweeted that it would send a special airliner to pick up the operatives.
Earlier Friday, Putin's top deputies pushed for a much stronger response. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for Russia to kick out a group of U.S. diplomats, and suggested blocking the Americans from using their summer retreat on the outskirts of Moscow and a warehouse south of Moscow. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev charged earlier in the day that the outgoing administration has become immersed in "anti-Russian death throes."
But President-elect Donald Trump said it was "time for our country to move on to bigger and better things."
Image courtesy FoxNews
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