The Latest: Germany calls for Syria cease-fire

AP News
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Posted: Sep 27, 2016 9:21 AM
The Latest: Germany calls for Syria cease-fire

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on Syria's conflict (all times local):

4:15

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says everything possible needs to be done to bring about a cease-fire in Syria but that she's skeptical a no-fly zone can be instituted.

Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday that "what we currently see on the ground is very, very brutal and clearly targeting civilians," and that talks are needed urgently.

Rebel-held eastern Aleppo has over the last week come under the heaviest wave of airstrikes since the start of the war, and on Tuesday Syrian troops captured a neighborhood in the city center, near the historic old quarter and citadel.

Merkel says developments in recent days have been a "deep, deep setback."

But she says, "I'm skeptical that in the current situation we can enforce an immediate no-fly zone; it clearly now is up to the Assad regime and also Russia to take a step to improve the chances for a cease-fire and humanitarian aid."

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3:15 p.m.

Syrian state TV says government forces have captured a central rebel-held neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo.

It says troops captured Farafra, near Aleppo's famous citadel, on Tuesday, and that fighting was underway in the same area, near the historic city center.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that government forces are advancing in central Aleppo.

A military official earlier told The Associated Press that the offensive in Aleppo will not stop before insurgents are "wiped out." The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

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2:05 p.m.

Turkey's foreign minister says the international coalition needs a strategy to defeat the Islamic State group without the involvement of Kurdish rebels, which Turkey deems a terrorist group.

In a televised news conference Tuesday, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Syrian Kurdish militia cannot be partners in clearing the Islamic State group from Iraq and Syria.

Cavusoglu says the Syrian Kurdish militia forces inclusion in an operation to liberate Raqqa from the Islamic State group would endanger Syria's future.

He says more than 200 Syrian Kurdish fighters remain in the city of Manbij, despite promises by U.S. leaders that they would withdraw east of the Euphrates. He asks, "if you cannot send more than 200 of them back, how will you trust them in other places?"

He was speaking at a joint news conference with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in Ankara

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2:00 p.m.

A Syrian military official says operations in Aleppo have been continuing since they were announced last week and will not stop before "terrorist groups" in the area have been eliminated.

Speaking to The Associated Press in the capital, Damascus, on Tuesday, the official says battles will continue daily on all fronts in Aleppo until the "terrorists" in the "eastern parts of the city are wiped out."

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

His comments came as state media reported that government forces had captured several buildings in the old quarter of Aleppo.

Aleppo, Syria's largest city and once commercial center, has been contested since 2012 but in recent weeks government forces have laid a siege on eastern rebel-held neighborhoods.

— Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria

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1:30 p.m.

Syrian state TV is reporting that government forces are advancing in the old quarter of the northern city of Aleppo and have captured several buildings.

The station said Tuesday troops are now advancing toward the central rebel-held neighborhood of Farafra.

The contested old quarter of Aleppo is home to the Umayyad Mosque, a UNESCO world heritage site and centerpiece of Aleppo's walled Old City. The 11th-century minaret of the famed mosque collapsed in April 2013 during fighting.

The offensive comes after days of intense airstrikes on rebel-held eastern parts of the city, during which scores of people were killed and a number of buildings demolished.

Over the weekend, government forces captured the Palestinian refugee camp of Handarat north of the city but rebels regained control of it hours later.