Russia, US to discuss militant withdrawal from Aleppo

Russia and the United States is set to discuss a possible withdrawal of militants in Aleppo, and Moscow will not support the request for a new ceasefire.

Kerry and Lavrov

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow and Washington will discuss the possibility of militant withdrawal from the embattled city of Aleppo in Syria, which was part of the proposal made by United States Secretary of State John Kerry.

The proposal by Kerry was handed over on Saturday, after he and Lavrov met in Rome.

“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,” Lavrov said.

The Russian envoy also said that armed groups who will refuse to leave the city will be treated as terrorists by Russia, and that Moscow will support Syria’s operations against them.

Negotiations on the plan are expected to begin on Tuesday after a delay of a couple of days, as per Washington’s request, Lavrov said.

The Foreign Minister also said that Moscow will not support a draft resolution for imposing a new ceasefire in Aleppo, citing the failure of past agreements to cease hostilities. The draft resolution was submitted to the United Nations by Egypt, New Zealand, and Spain. The document initially detailed a 10-day pause, which has been reduced to seven.

“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.

Lavrov also claims that Russia “has every reason to believe” that the plan to hand over the remaining rebel territories to the Syrian forces will work and “resolve the issue of eastern Aleppo.”

He also said that the draft resolution on a ceasefire is “counterproductive” and is against the solution being pursued by Russia and the US.

Written by Jim Lemuel Wilson

Jim Lemuel Wilson previously worked for The Manila Times and S&P Global Market Intelligence. He specializes in Middle East affairs and foreign policy. Contact Jim by email.

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