Friday 27 April 2018

Syria fighti​ng rages as US, Russia agree to hold talks

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Photo: Osman Orsal/Reuters
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Photo: Osman Orsal/Reuters

Anita Karlova

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in Switzerland this Saturday to discuss efforts to find a peace deal in Syria.

The encounter will be the first face-to-face contact between the two men since Washington broke off bilateral diplomatic contact with Moscow over the Syrian war earlier this month. A brief ceasefire in Syria that was brokered by Russia and the United States collapsed last month. Mr Lavrov and Mr Kerry will meet in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

Yesterday, an airstrike on the biggest market in the rebel-held side of Syria's Aleppo killed at least 15 people.

The strike came the day after at least 41 people, including five children, were killed in a series of airstrikes across besieged, rebel-held parts of the city, which has been the epicentre of Syria's civil war for months.

Overstretched rescuers were still digging through the rubble from the strikes the day before when they were called to the scene of the market bombing, which took place in the early afternoon.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of ramming through a Syria resolution into the UN Security Council in order to "whip up an anti-Russian hysteria."

Over the weekend, Russia blocked the UN Security Council resolution proposed by France and Spain on ending the hostilities in the war-torn country, blaming Paris for the refusal to discuss a compromise version.

Russia's veto prompted French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to call on the International Criminal Court to investigate Russia for possible war crimes in Syria.

Last night, Pope Francis appealed for an urgent ceasefire in Syria to evacuate civilians from what he called an "inhuman" assault on the besieged rebel-held part of the city of Aleppo.

Pope Francis said: "I'm begging with all my strength for those responsible to undertake an immediate ceasefire that is respected at least to give time to evacuate civilians."

The UN Security Council is deadlocked over how to respond to the Aleppo crisis, with Russia and the US failing to agree on renewing a ceasefire.

Irish Independent

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