The United States (US) and Russia sent mixed signals on whether any headway was made on reviving a moribund Syria truce amid intense bombardment of Aleppo on Friday suggesting the effort was dead.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said he made “a little progress” on halting the violence in talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who cited no progress and accused the United States of failing to honour the latest ceasefire deal. “I met with the foreign minister, we exchanged some ideas and we had a little bit of progress. We’re evaluating some mutual ideas in a constructive way,” Kerry said on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.
At a news briefing a short time later, Lavrov said little to suggest there had been any forward movement. Instead, he reiterated Moscow’s view that Washington was failing to keep its end of a September 9 ceasefire agreement, one element of which was to separate fighters of al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front from Western-backed opposition rebels.
The ceasefire collapsed on Monday with an attack on a humanitarian aid convoy near Aleppo that killed about 20 people. The United States said Russian aircraft made the attack, while Russia denied involvement and the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, whom Russia supports, blamed “terrorists.”
On Thursday, the Syrian army declared an offensive to fully capture Aleppo and warplanes bombed the city, Syria’s largest, with what residents described as unprecedented ferocity on Friday. At his briefing, Lavrov accused the opposition of having violated the truce hundreds of times while Western officials have blamed Russia and Syria for its collapse.