1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Syrian gains in Aleppo raise truce questions

September 8, 2016

Regime gains in Aleppo are raising questions about whether Russia was ever serious about ceasefire talks with the US. Was the Kremlin using the talks to stall for time until Syria could lay claim to Aleppo?

A bombed-out truck lies on its side in Aleppo.
Image: picture-alliance/Anadolu Agency/E. Turkoglu

Syria's military and allied militias have seized part of the country's largest city, Aleppo, which has been the scene of fierce fighting in recent weeks. This may explain why Syria's key supporter, Russia, and the United States have not been able to agree on a ceasefire for the embattled city.

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is among those who helped government troops recapture the Ramouseh neighborhood in southern Aleppo, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an independent organization.

Syrian forces target rebels in Aleppo

The Observatory said the past 40 days of fighting in Aleppo has left nearly 700 civilians dead, including 160 children.

Captain Abdel-Razzak Abdel-Salam, a spokesman for the rebel group Nour el-Din Zengi, hinted that Russia never intended to agree to a ceasefire for Aleppo, and that Moscow was just using the chance of talks as a pretense.

He said that even while Russia was engaged in exploratory ceasefire talks with the US, Syria, with Russian support, was plotting a "new betrayal" of besieged neighborhoods, violating the spirit of the talks aimed at allowing humanitarian aid into opposition districts.

Running out of patience

The United States seemed to concur, warning Russia that its patience is running thin, while pressing the Kremlin to commit to a "true cessation of hostilities" in Syria as high-level peace talks in Geneva are up in the air.

Moscow said Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expecting to hold a "personal meeting" in the Swiss city with US Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday evening, but Washington is saying the two sides need to iron out differences before the two men can meet. Russian's Foreign Ministry later said the diplomats would meet on Friday morning, though the US State Department said Kerry did not think a meeting made sense unless more progress by lower-level negotiators was made.

Lavrov did, however, meet with the UN's special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, on Thursday in Geneva.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter was quoted as saying that there is "quite a long way to go." He called for "a true cessation of hostilities," adding: "Our patience is not unlimited."

In London, the besieged Syrian opposition on Wednesday put forth a proposal for a transition to democracy without Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The plan calls for an 18-month transitional period, during which the country would be led by an interim government comprised of current government representatives along with opposition figures and representatives of civil society.

bik/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

A bombed out building in Mariupol
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage