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US, Russia ‘closing gaps’ to work together in Syria


US and Russia to hold talks on Syria

The United States and Russian Federation failed on Friday to reach a breakthrough deal for a 48-hour humanitarian truce in Aleppo or wider military cooperation against Islamist militants in Syria.

Following talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva, Kerry said there are still “a few narrow issues to be resolved” before a lasting accord can be reached.

The US and Russian representatives made it clear they had yet to overcome differences on a Syrian ceasefire plan, but both Kerry and Lavrov said a solution is very near.

The Kurdish rebels have been a source of tension between the USA, which views them as a key ally in the war in Syria, and Turkey, which sees them as terrorists allied with separatist Turkish Kurd factions.

Kerry said that Syrians benefited from the calm following the February accord, but that the gains were lost again when violations of the agreement began.

In the days ahead the technical teams, which include U.S. and Russian military and intelligence experts, will try to figure out ways to separate the opposition groups, backed by the United States and Gulf Arab countries, from the militant groups.

He said that Aleppo continues to be besieged and bombarded by the regime and its allies and the regime has today forced the surrender of Daraya after a brutal four years of the siege and continues to take territory in the Damascus suburbs.

Both Kerry and Lavrov stressed the need for fresh talks to find a political solution to the crisis.

“Lavrov and Kerry met in Switzerland as fighting in Syria became more intense, complicated by the introduction of Turkish ground forces”.

“We are ready, trucks are ready, and they can leave anytime we get that message”, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Thursday told reporters in Geneva, where negotiations on humanitarian aid delivery and a cessation of hostilities are under way. “Until we have, neither of us are prepared to make an announcement that is predicated for failure”.

Russian Federation has said that it can not agree until the United States and its coalition partners are able to sufficiently separate the rebel groups it backs from the terrorist fighters in areas where they overlap.

As a possible sign of tightening cooperation, Moscow vowed Thursday to work with the United States on a response after a UN investigation found that the Syrian regime had carried out at least two chemical attacks.

Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with government forces loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting a number of opposition factions and extremist groups. Last week, the USA had to call for Russian help when Syrian warplanes struck an area not far from where US troops were operating.

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