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U.S. Suspends Peace Talks With Russia Over Syria

Blaming Russia and the Syrian government for choosing violence over diplomacy, U.S. officials have announced they're suspending talks with Russia over Syria's civil war.

In response, Russia announced on Oct. 3 that it would cease disposal of plutonium which was part of an arms reduction agreement with the U.S. Russia will hold off on disposing of the material, which is enough for thousands of nuclear bombs according to CNN, as a result of what Moscow called Washington's "unfriendly actions" toward Russia.

The announcement came as American officials accused Russia and the Syrian government of violating a ceasefire that would have allowed crucial aid -- including food and medicine -- to make it to war-torn civilian areas such as the city of Aleppo.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the decision to suspend bi-lateral, direct talks with Russia "[did] not come lightly."

U.S. officials arrived at the decision after Aleppo's largest hospital was hit by bombs for the third time in one week, according to al Jazeera. Meanwhile, A smaller hospital in the devastated city was destroyed by airstrikes which killed seven people, including two medical staff members and five members of the hospital's maintenance team, CNN reports. The victims had been trying to repair the hospital from previous airstrikes when they were killed.

"Together, the Syrian regime and Russia, seem to have rejected diplomacy in furtherance of trying to pursue a military victory over the broken bodies, the bombed-out hospitals, the traumatized children of a long-suffering land," Kerry said.

But the U.S. will still communicate with Russia during multi-lateral talks, and communications lines remain open between U.S. and Russian military forces in Syria so both forces stay out of each other's way as they combat factions including the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

"I want to be very, very clear to everybody: We are not giving up on the Syrian people," Kerry added, according to CNN. "We are not abandoning the pursuit of peace. We are not going to leave the multilateral field. We are going to continue to try to find a way forward in order to end this war."

Sources: CNN (2), al Jazeera / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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