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Kerry lands in Geneva for talks with Russia’s Lavrov on Syria


Men wait in line to receive food aid in Aleppo Syria

On the role of Kurdish forces in the conflict, Kerry said that the U.S. intends to continue working with them, but does not support the creation of an independent Kurdish state. Lavrov echoed Kerry’s comments, adding that there had been hopes of a definitive ceasefire, or a new round of UN-brokered peace talks.

The U.S. and Russian Federation stressed that Friday’s talks were not meant to address the political issue, but to ease regular Syrians’ suffering and bring a halt to the fighting and create room for broader negotiations later on.

Kerry was to meet with the United Nations envoy for Syria later Friday.

Lavrov echoed that, saying “we still need to finalize a few issues” and pointed to the need to separate fighters from the al-Nusra Front, which has ties to al-Qaida, from USA -backed fighters who hold parts of northwest Syria. “If the remaining details can be completed, we believe we will be able to address the two primary challenges to the cessation of hostilities – the regime violations and the increasing influence of the al-Nusra Front”, Kerry said. The talks take place just days after Syrian rebels backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes entered Jarablus, one of Islamic State’s last strongholds on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Any U.S. -Russian coordination would be complicated by the fact that Russia says there are Islamic extremist groups mixed in with the moderate rebels that the U.S. supports.

‘I think in the nearest time we will present the fruits of our joint efforts, ‘ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. While Russia is providing military support to the government of embattled President Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. is supporting rebel groups seeking to bring Assad down. “The Obama administration correctly perceives this as the last best chance to ease the killing during this administration and are therefore willing to swallow a bitter pill and get more on-board with the Russian initiative than they would have liked to in an ideal world”. Last week, the USA had to call for Russian help when Syrian warplanes struck an area not far from where US troops were operating.

Civilians in other encircled towns were also malnourished, Egeland said, singling out rebel-besieged Foua and Kefraya in Idlib and government-besieged Madaya near Damascus, which have not had United Nations food deliveries in 116 days.

Those goals are not new, but recent developments have made achieving them even more urgent and important, according to USA officials. But Turkish forces have also shelled a US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia.

The talks came as opposition groups effectively surrendered the Damascus suburb of Daraya to the government after a grueling four-year siege.

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