Talks are underway to include Aleppo in a temporary lull in fighting declared by the Syrian army in some western parts of the country, Russian officials say, in a sign of intensified efforts to halt a surge of violence in the former commercial capital.
A senior defence ministry official in Moscow, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said on Sunday that negotiations were taking place to “establish a regime of calm also in Aleppo province”, but the official did not specify who was negotiating on Aleppo.
The United States has prioritised stopping the bloodshed in Aleppo, which has been at the centre of an escalation of violence that has all but destroyed a wider ceasefire deal and broken up peace talks in Geneva.
Nearly 10 days of bombardments by both the government side and insurgents in the city of Aleppo has killed more than 250 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, confounding hopes of an end to five years of war.
Rebels shelled at least one area of the city on Sunday and government warplanes raided its outskirts, but bombardments were fewer, the group added.
Moscow and Washington brokered the February 27 ceasefire deal, which applied to western Syria but excluded Al Qaeda and Islamic State militants — world powers and the United Nations have been trying to salvage that truce.
Syria’s army announced late on Friday a “regime of calm”, or lull in fighting, which applied to Damascus and some of its outskirts, and parts of north-western coastal province Latakia — but it excluded Aleppo.
The Russian defence official said on Sunday that the lull in fighting had been extended around Damascus for another 24 hours.
In Latakia province, it still applied through Monday without need for an extension — it had been respected in both areas, the official added.
Syria’s army confirmed the extension of the lull around Damascus but did not mention Aleppo. READ MORE