US in desperate bid to save Syria truce

2016-05-02 10:58
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Geneva - Fresh air strikes pummelled the Syrian city of Aleppo on Monday as US Secretary of State John Kerry made a desperate bid to salvage a two-month ceasefire in the war-torn country.

Arriving in Geneva late on Sunday, Kerry was to hold talks with UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura and the Saudi foreign minister, but the absence of Russia cast a pall over the proceedings.

Washington and Moscow are the joint sponsors of the Syrian peace process and De Mistura has made it clear that he sees little hope of progress without their agreement.

But Russia, while agreeing in theory to support a ceasefire, has done little to rein in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces around Aleppo, which were in action again on Monday.

More than a week of fighting in and around Syria's second city has killed hundreds of civilians and fresh air strikes hit rebel-held eastern Aleppo in the early hours.

Dampened hopes

Several neighbourhoods, including the heavily-populated Bustan al-Qasr district, were hit, according to a report.

On Saturday, Russia said it would not push Assad's forces to halt air raids on the war-ravaged city as they were targeting jihadist groups not covered by the truce.

Washington has rejected this argument and on Sunday the head of Moscow's co-ordination centre in Syria said talks on a broader freeze had begun.

At least 253 civilians - including 49 children - have been killed on both sides of the divided city since April 22, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor says.

The fighting has dampened hopes that the ceasefire could finally lay the groundwork for an end to Syria's five-year conflict.

Read more on:    bashar al-assad  |  john kerry  |  syria

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