Ankara, October 14, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
Ankara will initiate proposals for humanitarian aid to Aleppo at a key international meeting that is expected to be held in Lausanne on Oct. 15, as world powers prepare for new truce talks, according to Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın.
Speaking at a press briefing in Ankara on Oct. 13, Kalın said Turkey had three topics on its agenda regarding the Syrian crisis.
“First, there is the immediate halt of clashes in Aleppo and the delivery of humanitarian aid. Second, there is the resumption of the political process under the framework of the U.N. Third, there is the issue of the fight against Daesh [the Arabic acronym of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIL] in Syria,” Kalın said.
Russia said Oct. 13 that it was prepared to secure safe passage for rebels to abandon Aleppo even as it maintained air strikes on the battleground.
“We are ready to ensure the safe withdrawal of armed rebels, the unimpeded passage of civilians to and from eastern Aleppo, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid there,” Russian Lt.-Gen. Sergei Rudskoy said in a televised briefing.
On the ground in the ravaged city, at least seven civilians were killed in a series of early-morning strikes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
On the northeastern outskirts of the city, advancing regime troops captured several hilltops overlooking opposition-held areas.
Several major international efforts have failed to secure a political solution to Syria’s brutal war, which has cost more than 300,000 lives.
A new diplomatic push will take place this weekend.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are expected to be joined at talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Oct. 15 by their counterparts from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and possibly Qatar, Lavrov told CNN International in an interview on Oct. 12.
Then in London on Oct. 16, Kerry will likely meet with his European counterparts from Britain, France and Germany.
Kerry will attend both meetings to discuss “a multilateral approach to resolving the crisis in Syria, including a sustained cessation of violence and the resumption of humanitarian aid deliveries,” said his spokesman, John Kirby.
Reports stated that Iran will also attend the meeting in Lausanne.
U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura will also attend the talks.
Lavrov told CNN television in an interview that he hoped the discussions in Switzerland could help “launch a serious dialogue” based on the now-defunct U.S.-Russian pact.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad expressed hope on Oct. 13 that a recent normalization of relations between Russia and Turkey could give Moscow a chance to persuade Ankara to change its stance with regard to the ongoing Syrian conflict.
“Syria’s only hope is that Russia would be able to change Turkish policy [in regard to Syria] through this new rapprochement between Turkey and Russia,” al-Assad told Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
Russia called on regional partners not to supply portable anti-aircraft missiles to opposition fighters in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Oct. 13, adding that any unfriendly actions against Russia in Syria would elicit an appropriate response from Moscow.
The Syrian government Oct. 13 partially approved a United Nations aid plan for October but not its request to deliver urgently needed supplies to the rebel-held part of Aleppo, diplomats and a U.N. official said.
Damascus has given a green light for convoys to 25 of 29 besieged and hard-to-reach areas across Syria, they said, but not to eastern Aleppo and three rural parts of Damascus province.
Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, deputy U.N. special envoy for Syria, confirmed the receipt of the approval after a weekly meeting of the humanitarian task force, composed of major and regional powers. He gave no details.