The Latest: Lavrov, Kerry discuss Syria’s Aleppo
BEIRUT (AP) – The Latest on developments in Syria where government forces have renewed their attacks on eastern rebel-held districts of the city of Aleppo (all times local):
Russia’s foreign minister is calling on US Secretary of State John Kerry to ensure that what he called terrorist groups are separated from so-called moderate opposition fighters in Syria.
Sergey Lavrov made the call in a Monday telephone conversation with Kerry, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The call came as fighting pounded the city of Aleppo; the battle resumed over the weekend after a pause in fighting called by Syrian forces and Russia, which is supporting them with air strikes. Lavrov told Kerry that fighters occupying the eastern part of Aleppo fired on civilians during the pause.
Also Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Moscow was disappointed by the work of UN agencies during the Aleppo pause.
“Regrettably, it has to be acknowledged that over the three days of the declared ceasefire, the UN’s humanitarian agencies failed to realize this opportunity and help those who were in need to be removed from east Aleppo,” he was quoted as telling the news agency Interfax.
A U.N. spokesman says the organization is unable to provide humanitarian and medical assistance in besieged areas of eastern Aleppo because they lack adequate security guarantees.
Stephane Dujarric on Monday urged “all parties to facilitate an immediate and urgent medical evacuation of the sick and wounded and their family members.”
“These are basic requirements under international humanitarian law and human rights law and compliance is an obligation for all parties,” Dujarric added.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has called for an end of the “massive bombing raids” by Russia and Syrian government forces in Aleppo to allow for the delivery of aid to beleaguered populations and the resumption of peace efforts in Syria.
Speaking during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara Monday, Ayrault said: “it’s the only way that humanitarian aid can reach populations that really need it; it’s the only that that the negotiations can resume.”
Ayrault also said that there cannot be a “lasting peace” in Syria “outside of a political solution.”
Syrian opposition activists say air raids on a northwestern town have killed at least five people.
Monday’s airstrikes hit several neighborhoods in Khan Sheikhoun, a town in Idlib province that is a stronghold of insurgent groups, including al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria known as the Fatah al-Sham Front.
The region has been subjected to almost daily airstrikes by Russian and Syrian government warplanes.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says seven people were killed while the Local Coordination Committees said the air raids struck a local market in Khan Sheikhoun, killing five people.
Syrian state media and opposition activists say government forces and their allies have captured a high point in the city of Aleppo where fighting with rebel groups resumed over the weekend.
The SANA news agency said on Monday that the government troops took the hilltop of Bazo on the southern edge of Aleppo, near military bases.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Bazo was taken amid heavy bombardment. The Observatory and the Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective, say that government forces are shelling the eastern, rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo.
SANA says rebels shelled government-held neighborhoods, killing one person and wounding seven.
Fighting returned to Aleppo on Saturday night, after a lull meant to allow rebels and civilians to leave the eastern districts expired without anyone leaving.
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