The Russian foreign minister says Moscow and the US will soon hold talks on the withdrawal of militants from the city of Aleppo, stressing his country’s full support for Syria in its fight against the Takfiri terrorists.
“During the Russian-American consultations, concrete routes and timing of the withdrawal of all militants from eastern Aleppo will be discussed. Once we reach an agreement, a ceasefire will be put in place,” Sergey Lavrov said Monday.
He added that Moscow and Washington will begin the talks on the militants’ pullout in Geneva on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, noting the discussions will take place upon a proposal made by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Russia’s top diplomat added that any militant group that refuses to leave eastern Aleppo after Moscow reaches a deal with the US will be treated as terrorist.
The negotiations have been delayed by a few days at Washington’s request, Lavrov noted.
Lavrov also slammed as counterproductive a draft resolution on Aleppo truce that is set to be put to vote at the UN Security Council later in the day, saying it is aimed at undermining Russia-US efforts, hinting at the possibility of Russia vetoing the measure.
“Taking into consideration the outcome of the previous pauses [in the conflict], there is absolutely no doubt that the 10-day ceasefire which backers of the draft resolution generously want to provide the militants with would surely be used for regrouping and rearming the extremists and would slow down the liberation of eastern Aleppo from them,” he said.
The comments come as the UN Security Council is reportedly set to vote on the Aleppo resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in the embattled Syrian city as well as aid delivery there.
According to diplomatic sources, the resolution, drafted by Egypt, New Zealand and Spain, will be put to vote during a Monday session.
It urges all parties to the conflict in Syria to “immediately cease any attacks in the city of Aleppo to allow urgent humanitarian needs to be addressed” for an initial period of seven days that could be extended, the sources added.
The draft resolution calls for allowing humanitarian aid delivery to people trapped in the militant-occupied parts of eastern Aleppo.
The document also says that the temporary ceasefire will be a prelude to a cessation of hostilities across Syria.
The resolution was reportedly drawn up after extended negotiations with Russia, which has been providing air cover to the Syrian army’s ground operations against Takfiri terror groups for over a year.
It is still uncertain whether Moscow, which had proposed a renewable ceasefire of 24 hours, excluding terrorist groups such as the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as the al-Nusra Front), will veto the resolution.
Moscow and Damascus argue that lengthy pauses in the fight against militants could pave the way for them to regroup and rebuild their strength.
Meanwhile, Canada has asked on behalf of 74 of the 193 member states of the UN General Assembly to hold a plenary meeting for a vote on another resolution on humanitarian aid in Aleppo. No date has been set for the event so far.
Unlike the Security Council, no country has the right to veto the decisions of the General Assembly which are not binding either.
The assembly, according to a provision dating back to 1950, can take over from the Security Council when it is too divided to act.
Syrian government forces, who are in full control of western Aleppo, have been conducting operations to purge militants from the city’s east.
Backed by Russia’s airpower, Syrian army forces and their allies have dealt heavy blows to the militants over the past few weeks.
On the Aleppo front
On Monday, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Syrian forces had managed to retake the neighborhood of Qadi Askar overnight.
The monitoring group also said the army had earlier captured Karm al-Myessar, Karm al-Qatarji and Karm al-Tahan neighborhoods.
Syrian forces have now surrounded Shaar neighborhood, whose potential recapture would bring back 70 percent of east Aleppo under the government’s control, it added.
Syria’s official news agency SANA quoted on Sunday a military source as saying that government troops had restored security and stability to new areas in the eastern part of Aleppo.
The Syrian army and its allies have reportedly taken control of the neighborhoods of Myessar, Tahhan as well as Qadi Askar al-Haooz roundabouts. The army’s engineering units have begun dismantling bombs planted by terrorists in those areas.
The army also purged the Eye Hospital in Qadi Askar neighborhood of the terrorists.
The militants, however, continued to launch attacks across the country on Sunday. They fired rockets at the towns of Nubl and al-Zahraa, north of Aleppo, injuring 10 people, including three children.
Daesh terrorists also launched mortar attacks in al-Qussour neighborhood in the city of Dayr al-Zawr, injuring six civilians, including two children.