The Latest: Kerry hopes to revive Syria talks

AP News
Posted: Dec 06, 2016 2:55 PM
The Latest: Kerry hopes to revive Syria talks

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):

10 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he hopes to convince Syria's warring factions and their backers to return to the negotiating table before the besieged city of Aleppo is destroyed.

Kerry said Tuesday that he is due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Hamburg, Germany on Thursday and would try to find a way forward.

He said he hopes Russia will "understand the imperative of getting to that table, having the negotiation and of not inflaming passions more with the total destruction of Aleppo."

Earlier Tuesday, Lavrov said talks with Washington are not working and alleged that the United States wants a pause in the fighting so rebels can re-arm.

He said the rebels would be wiped out if they don't leave the city.


8:45 p.m.

Activists say rebel shelling of two besieged pro-government towns in northwestern Syria killed at least 10 people, many from the same family.

The towns of Foua and Kfarya in rebel-controlled Idlib province have come under intense mortar shelling from opposition fighters since a government offensive against rebel strongholds in Aleppo city began last week and an intensive Syrian and Russian aerial bombing campaign began on Idlib.

A Facebook page operated by activists in the predominantly Shiite towns said 10 people, including five from the same family, were killed in Tuesday's shelling on Foua. The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll in the two towns at 12, including three children. The Observatory said at least four people were killed in rebel-held parts of Idlib province.


4 p.m.

A Syrian war monitoring group says government forces have captured large parts of Aleppo's central-eastern al-Shaar neighborhood from rebels.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government forces took most of the once-populous neighborhood Tuesday following intense clashes.

The SANA state news agency said the government captured the entire neighborhood as well as the neighborhoods of al-Qatarji and Karm al-Dada.

The neighborhood was home to four hospitals available to residents trapped by the government's siege of the eastern part of the city.

Mahmoud Raslan, a local media activist, said rebels withdrew from the neighborhood in the morning. He said several were killed under government bombardment.

The government's campaign to retake Aleppo's rebel-held eastern districts has displaced tens of thousands of civilians over the past week.


12:55 p.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned Syrian rebels in Aleppo that they will be wiped out unless they agree to stop fighting and quit the besieged city.

Lavrov told reporters during a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday that "those who refuse to leave nicely will be destroyed. There is no other way."

Lavrov also lamented what he described as attempts by the United States to obtain a pause in the fighting in Aleppo to allow rebels to re-arm and re-supply. He said that "serious conversations with are our American partners are not working."

Syrian government forces are closely backed by Russian air power in the Mideast country's civil war. Government forces recently launched a new push to retake rebel-held eastern Aleppo neighborhoods and seized large parts of the city.


12:05 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman says the Kremlin regrets a "more than modest" reaction by the international community following the deadly attack on a Russian military hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo the previous day.

Dmitry Peskov singled out the United States on Tuesday for what he said was a muted reaction to the "tragedy" in the besieged Syrian city. Two Russian nurses were killed in the attack.

Russian officials have said the artillery attack was deliberately planned and suggest that the coordinates of the hospital were supplied to rebels in Aleppo by a foreign power.

Russia's Defense Ministry says a statement from the International Red Cross about the incident was "cynical" and showed the organization was "indifferent to the murder of Russian medics in Aleppo."


11:55 a.m.

The Syrian government says it rejects any cease-fire for embattled Aleppo unless it includes the departure of all rebels from the eastern part of the city.

Syria's Foreign Ministry says in a statement carried on the state SANA news agency on Tuesday that the government won't allow the rebels a chance to "regroup and repeat their crimes" in the divided city.

The statement comes a day after Russia and China blocked a draft resolution at the U.N. Security Council demanding a seven-day truce in Aleppo.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says rebel shelling of Aleppo's government-held districts killed 81 civilians in the past three weeks. The government's offensive to take eastern Aleppo killed 341 civilians over the same period and displaced tens of thousands over the past week.