Friday 28 October 2016

Russia 'edging closer to deal with US on Aleppo'

Published 15/08/2016 | 18:56

Fighting for Aleppo has become the focal point of the nation's civil war
Fighting for Aleppo has become the focal point of the nation's civil war

Moscow and Washington are edging closer to an agreement that would help defuse the situation in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, according to Russia's defence minister.

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Sergei Shoigu said that "step by step, we are nearing an arrangement, I'm talking exclusively about Aleppo, that would allow us to find common ground and start fighting together for bringing peace to that territory, that long-suffering land so that people could return to their homes".

He added that Russian representatives are "in a very active stage of talks with our American colleagues".

Fighting for Aleppo, once Syria's commercial capital and its largest city, has become the focal point of the nation's civil war, now in its sixth year.

However, a US official said that discussions with the Russians are still ongoing and no agreement is close.

Russia and the United States have been discussing greater co-ordination in Syria, but they have been unable to reach agreement on what militant groups could be targeted.

Russia has criticised what it describes as US reluctance to persuade the Syrian opposition groups it supports to withdraw from areas controlled by the Nusra Front, al Qaida's branch in Syria.

Mr Shoigu said in the TV interview that extremists in Syria are often positioned near groups that the US considers moderate.

The Nusra Front has rebranded itself and now goes by the name of Fath al-Sham, an apparent attempt to evade Russian and US-led air strikes targeting militants. Russia has dismissed the name change as window-dressing.


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