Beirut – Moscow is still holding the projected meeting between Russian and U.S. experts in Geneva next Saturday by announcing a cessation of fighting in Aleppo.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Syrian regime forces had stopped their combat operations in Aleppo to allow the evacuation of civilians.
Speaking in Hamburg on the sidelines of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization annual conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Lavrov said an agreement was reached to hold a meeting between U.S. and Russian experts in Geneva and discuss the situation in Aleppo.
Several observers believe that in light of the latest field developments in the city, U.S.-Russian talks would tackle the phase succeeding the end of the battle in Aleppo.
The decision announced by Moscow on Thursday came while the Syrian regime still refuse any suggestion to enforce a humanitarian truce in the city that does not include fighters.
The regime insists on moving armed factions to the city of Idlib, a request that moderate fighters refuse. Meanwhile, the four most prominent factions in the city of Aleppo said they refuse to withdraw, opposition sources in Aleppo told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Regime forces now control more than 75 percent of Aleppo’s besieged areas, 20 days after launching their military campaign in the city. Opposition forces and families are currently trapped in the southwestern part of the eastern neighborhoods.
Regime military operations seek to push civilians and fighters to three neighborhoods west the besieged areas, before reaching a deal that would empty the city from its residents and from fighters.
The opposition source said that Noureddine Al-Zanki Movement “opened their weapon reserves depots and has announced a general mobilization.”
The source said that available arms would allow fighters to face the regime attacks and recuperate some areas that would allow lifting the siege of Aleppo.
Al-Zanki agrees with other factions on this policy, including Jubhat Fatah al-Sham, Ahrar Al-Sham, Abu Amara Brigades and Fastaqim Kama Umirt Union, the source added.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Thursday that more than 800 people have been killed and up to 3,500 wounded in eastern Aleppo in the past 26 days, while the remaining trapped civilians await an effective death sentence, the president of Aleppo local council said.
U.N. Syria humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said on Thursday that five months of negotiations over aid plans have produced “nothing” and it was up to the United States and Russia to try to coordinate a deal.
“The member states that are supposed to help us get access to civilians in the crossfire are poles apart in how they regard what is happening in Syria,” he told reporters after a weekly Syria humanitarian meeting led by the U.S. and Russia.
Egeland added: “Russia said they will definitely be discussing with us how to organize the evacuations, but they are not promising any pause (in fighting).”
Meanwhile, non-Syrian extremist leaderships loyal to Al-Qaeda organization in Syria are seeking to establish a new organization named “Taliban Asham” to announce its allegiance to Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.