WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday urged Russian president Vladimir Putin and President of Syria Bashar al-Assad to  stop offensive operations against rebel forces in Syria, saying that such offensives were counter productive to the ongoing peace negotiations between the warring groups.

“It is critical, obviously, that Russia restrain both itself and the Assad regime from conducting offensive operations, just as it is our responsibility to get the opposition to refrain from engaging in those operations,” he told journalists.

Kerry expressed that government-led attacks on the opposition in Syria had hindered the possibility of peace negotiations with them.

Kerry made these comments on Monday when he was reminded about the fact that Monday, August 1, was the day that he had hoped the political transition in Syria could begin, something which now seems a distant possibility.

“The target date was set with the agreement that the parties were going to be able to go to the talks and begin immediately to negotiate,” he said.

“But because of the continued offensive operations of the Assad regime, the opposition found it impossible to sit in Geneva and actually negotiate without the cessation of hostilities. he added.

Russia and the United States are nominally co-chairs of an international bid to induce Assad’s regime to enter deliberations with armed rebel groups. Earlier, despite an international push, Assad had categorically vowed not to negotiate with the rebels.