Assad regime, Russia and Iran responsible for Syrian crisis: Obama

Washington, Dec 17 (IANS) US President Barack Obama on Friday said that Assad regime and its allies Russia and Iran were responsible for “deeply frustrating” Syrian crisis that “haunts him daily”.

He condemned the situation, harshly accusing the Syrian regime, along with Moscow and Tehran, of slaughtering civilians in Aleppo during his last scheduled news conference of 2016 on Friday before heading off on a two-week family vacation in Hawaii, CNN reported.

“We have seen a deliberate strategy of surrounding, besieging and starving innocent civilians,” Obama said.

“Responsibility for this brutality lies in one place alone: the Assad regime and its allies Russia and Iran,” Obama declared.

“The blood for these atrocities are on their hands.”

The President led off the traditional Q-and-A session by touting his achievements from his time in office, starting off by noting that Thursday saw the biggest number of Obamacare sign-ups — 670,000 people — in a single day, CNN added.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said that it was due to this “extraordinary demand” that the deadline to sign up for coverage beginning on January 1, 2017, has been extended until December 19.

The news comes just weeks ahead of lawmakers reconvening for the new session of Congress on January 3. Republicans intend to move swiftly to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act through a budget reconciliation bill.

The end-of-year meeting with reporters in the White House briefing room has become an annual tradition — a chance for the President to reflect on the successes and failures of the past year and begin to set the agenda for the next.