Sunday 22 April 2018

US wary as Assad proposes ceasefire for Aleppo

Rebel fighters prepare rockets to be launched towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta
Rebel fighters prepare rockets to be launched towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta

Ruth Sherlock Istanbul

The Syrian government has proposed a ceasefire in the city of Aleppo, and an exchange of detainees with rebels, in a series of rare concessions.

Walid al-Moualem, the Syrian foreign minister, who is visiting Moscow, said he gave Russian officials a plan for a truce in Aleppo, Syria's biggest city, where government forces have been unable to overcome rebels over the past year.

The announcement is thought to be confidence-building as the Syrian opposition gathered in Istanbul for a final vote on attending a Geneva peace summit next week.

"We would like this ceasefire to serve as an example to other towns," Mr al-Moualem said, adding that the government would draw up a list of detainees for a potential prisoner swap with opposition rebels.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, warned the Syrian regime yesterday it would fail to divert next week's peace talks away from the aim of installing a new government.

Accusing President Bashar al-Assad of ceding territory to extremists in order to increase fears of militant groups, Mr Kerry said "nobody is going to be fooled". "They can bluster, they can protest, they can put out distortions, the bottom line is we are going to Geneva to implement Geneva I, and if Assad doesn't do that he will invite greater response," he said.

Mr Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have led moves to bring together the divided Syrian opposition and the Assad regime for the first time since the conflict erupted. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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