Date
17 January 2017
Syrian girls flee the aftermath of a government airstrike in a rebel-held part of Aleppo. Photo: AFP
Syrian girls flee the aftermath of a government airstrike in a rebel-held part of Aleppo. Photo: AFP

Russia proposes March truce in Syria

World powers pressed Russia Wednesday to stop bombing around Aleppo in support of a Syrian government offensive to recapture the city.

A western official said Moscow had presented a proposal envisaging a truce in three weeks’ time, Reuters reported.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing for a ceasefire and more aid access to Aleppo, where rebel-held areas are being cut off and the United Nations has warned a new humanitarian disaster could be on the way.

Aid workers said the water supply to Aleppo, still home to two million people, was no longer functioning.

Kerry is hoping for agreement at a meeting Thursday in Munich between Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other powers aimed at trying to revive peace negotiations that foundered earlier this month.

A Syrian military source said Wednesday the battle for Aleppo, a major prize in a war that has killed a quarter of a million people, would continue in “all directions”.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said the government expected a tough but relatively short battle to return the city to state control.

A western official said Russia had made a proposal to begin a ceasefire in Syria on March 1, but that Washington has concerns about parts of it and no agreement had been reached.

Asked how soon a ceasefire could be put in place, a Russian diplomat who declined to be identified said: “Maybe March, I think so.”

At a closed-door meeting of the 15-member UN Security Council, several members pressed Russia to end the Aleppo bombing sooner.

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