Saturday, October 8, 2016

Russia backs UN envoy's plan to escort extremist fighters out of Aleppo -- report

Russia is ready to persuade the Syrian government to agree to a UN proposal to escort rebel fighters out of Aleppo, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Russian state media.
The proposal to clear the city of fighters with thel Nusra Front, made by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, was intended as a means to ease hostilities in the besieged city.
"I heard his statement concerning only Nusra. For God's sake, if al-Nusra leaves with weapons toward Idlib, where its main forces are based, we are ready to support this approach for the sake of Aleppo and will be ready to urge the Syrian government to agree," Lavrov said in an interview with Russia's Channel One.
Opposition fighters remaining in Aleppo after the UN special envoy's plan is enacted should be clearly separated from the militant group, he added.
It's unclear exactly how de Mistura's plan would be carried out or whether the Nusra Front -- now known as Jabhat Fatah al Sham -- would sign up to any such deal.
US Secretary of State John Kerry meanwhile blasted Russia and the Syrian regime for what he said was yet another attack on a hospital in Aleppo overnight that killed 20 people and injured 100.
Speaking in Washington on Friday alongside French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Kerry said Russia and the Syrian regime "owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities and children and women."
Those responsible should be held accountable for these actions, Kerry said, saying they were "way beyond -- years beyond -- the accidental."
Kerry said the two would discuss "how best to deliver the strongest message possible" about the "siege of innocent people" in Aleppo.
Ayrault called Aleppo a "human tragedy" and warned that if nothing was done, Aleppo could be destroyed by the end of the year.