John Kerry to attempt to restore Syria deal

US Secretary of State John Kerry said “several proposals” aimed at finding a way to restore at least a partial truce in Syria are being discussed, amid continuing attacks in the city of Aleppo.

Kerry met with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and with the UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. 

He said progress was being made towards an understanding on how to reduce the violence in Aleppo but that more work was needed.

“There are several proposals that are now going back to key players to sign off,” Kerry said after meeting de Mistura. 

"We are hopeful but we are not there yet. We are going to work very hard in the next 24 hours, 48 hours to get there.”

He said the US and Russia have agreed that there will be additional personnel stationed in Geneva around the clock to make sure there is more accountability and a better ability to enforce the cessation of hostilities on a day-to-day basis.

Speaking later to staff at the US mission in Geneva, Kerry said he hoped that an agreement about Aleppo could be announced within the next few days. 

For Aleppo, the US is considering drawing up with the Russians a detailed map that would lay out ‘safe zones’.

Civilians and members of moderate opposition groups covered by the truce could find shelter from persistent attacks by Assad’s military, which claims to be targeting ‘terrorists’. 

One US official said “hard lines” would delineate specific areas and neighbourhoods.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.

It was not immediately clear if Russia would accept such a plan or if Moscow could persuade the Assad government to respect the prospective zones. Some US officials are sceptical of the chances for success, but also note that it is worth a try to at least reduce the violence.

US officials also say the safe zones will not be no-fly zones per se. However, details, such as the locations of those, have not yet been agreed to and these issues will be discussed by Kerry and Lavrov in a phonecall, as well as by Lavrov and de Mistura in Moscow.

Earlier, al-Jubeir called the situation in Aleppo with continued airstrikes an “outrage” and a criminal violation of humanitarian law. 

He said Syrian President Bashar Assad would be held accountable for the attacks and would be removed from power either through a political process or by force.

“There is only one side that is flying airplanes, and that is Bashar al-Assad and his allies, so they are responsible for the massacre of women, children, and the elderly,” he said.

“They are responsible for the murder of doctors and medical personnel, and this situation, any way you slice it, will not stand. The world is not going to allow them to get away with this.”


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