Sunday 11 December 2016

US and Russia consider Syria ceasefire proposal

Published 30/10/2015 | 16:03

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry share a word prior to talks on Syria at a hotel in Vienna, Austria (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry share a word prior to talks on Syria at a hotel in Vienna, Austria (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov share a word prior to the start of the Syria talks at a hotel in Vienna, Austria(Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

The US, Russia and other world powers are considering a new plan to set up a ceasefire in Syria within the next four to six months, sources have said.

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That would be followed by the formation of a transitional government featuring president Bashar Assad and opposition members. How long Assad could remain in power under the transition is unclear.

Western officials said the US and its partners support the timetable as a first phase towards ending the four-year civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people and uprooted over 11 million.

They said an agreement has not yet been reached but diplomats meeting in Vienna are considering the idea.

As the talks involving foreign ministers and senior representatives of 19 countries were happening, Syrian opposition groups reported that a government missile barrage had killed more than 40 in a Damascus suburb.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Co-ordination Committees said government forces fired more than 11 missiles at a market in Douma, killing at least 40.

Both organisations and a third Douma-based activist network were reporting dozens more wounded in the mid-morning attack.

The Syrian National Council, the main Western-backed opposition group in exile, blamed Russian air strikes for the "massacre" which it said killed 55 civilians. It said it was the second deadly attack in the past 24 hours after Russian air strikes hit the main hospital in Douma on Thursday.

Meanwhile, at least 15 people, including four children, were killed in air strikes on the northern city of Aleppo, activists said

It was not clear whether the strikes were Russian or from Syrian government aircraft.

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