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Saving Syria: Kerry hopes to salvage the talks


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Saving Syria: Kerry hopes to salvage the talks

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  • Increased monitoring of ceasefire
  • Eastern Ghouta ceasefire extended
  • No news on Latakia
  • Aleppo currently calm

International powers are stepping up efforts to end the renewed bloodshed in Syria.

The US secretary of state John Kerry has met UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura and Arab foreign ministers in Geneva

Continuing violence in and around Aleppo has threatened both the UN-backed peace process and a fragile ceasefire.

“Russia and the US have agreed that there will be additional personnel who will work from here in Geneva on a daily basis, 24-7, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in order to try to make sure that there is a better job and a better ability to be able to enforce the cessation of hostilities day-to-day,” Kerry told reporters in Geneva.

Earlier, Kerry said talks with Russia and coalition partners are “getting closer to a place of understanding” on renewing a ceasefire in Syria.

He insisted the agreement includes around the city of Aleppo.

Kerry spoke ahead of a meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Jubeir has condemned the escalation in fighting as a “violation of all humanitarian laws”.

He has blamed the air strikes on Aleppo on government forces and has called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

What is happening on the ground?

On Friday, the Syrian government said it was installing a “temporary regime of calm” in an area around Damascus and the coastal province of Latakia.

A freeze in fighting, announced on Friday, applied to fighting in the coastal province of Latakia and Eastern Ghouta in Damascus.

This has been extended by 48 hours in Eastern Ghouta and is now due to finish at 0100 local time on Wednesday morning.

A similar cessation is set to last until 0100 Tuesday morning in Latakia.

What has Kerry said?

He has made it clear that a ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia in February must also include Aleppo.

The city has borne the brunt of the recent increase in fighting.

The head of Moscow’s coordination centre in Syria said on Sunday that talks to include Aleppo in the lull had begun.

Aleppo – the latest

  • 250 reportedly killed in last 10 days
  • City being “pushed to the brink of humanitarian disaster* – ICRC
  • Large areas of the city destroyed
  • Many without water and electricity
  • Initially left out of the Feb 27 truce

The situation is at its worst in Aleppo.

More than 250 people have been killed in over a week of fighting in Syria’s second city.

Medecins sans Frontieres says 50 staff and patients died after this hospital took a direct hit last Thursday.

The charity says they included one of the last paediatricians believed to be working in the rebel-held city.

Colleagues of Doctor Muhammed Waseen Maaz posted “this tribute: https://www.facebook.com/TheSyriaCampaign/photos/a.608812989210718.1073741828.607756062649744/1034460166645996/?type=3&theater to him on Facebook.

Aleppo was initially left out of a deal to reinforce February’s truce between the government and non-jihadist rebels.

What they are saying

“We are getting closer to a place of understanding, but we have some work to do and that is why we are here.” – US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva

“The world is not going to allow them to get away with this” – Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir calls for the Syrian president to step down.

“Currently, active negotiations are underway to establish a ‘regime of silence’ in Aleppo province” – the head of Moscow’s coordination centre in Syria Lieutenant General Sergei Kuralenko says talks to include Aleppo in the ceasefire have begun.

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