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Russia 'edging closer to deal with US on Aleppo'

Published 15/08/2016

Rebels and pro-government forces are battling for control of Aleppo
Rebels and pro-government forces are battling for control of Aleppo
Fighting for Aleppo has become the focal point of the nation's civil war

Moscow and Washington are edging closer to an agreement that would help defuse the situation in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, according to Russia's defence minister.

Sergei Shoigu said that "step by step, we are nearing an arrangement, I'm talking exclusively about Aleppo, that would allow us to find common ground and start fighting together for bringing peace to that territory, that long-suffering land so that people could return to their homes".

Civilians look for fuel and water in the ravaged city of Aleppo (AP)
Civilians look for fuel and water in the ravaged city of Aleppo (AP)

He added that Russian representatives are "in a very active stage of talks with our American colleagues".

Fighting for Aleppo, once Syria's commercial capital and its largest city, has become the focal point of the nation's civil war, now in its sixth year.

However, a US official said that discussions with the Russians are still ongoing and no agreement is close.

Russia and the United States have been discussing greater co-ordination in Syria, but they have been unable to reach agreement on what militant groups could be targeted.

Russia has criticised what it describes as US reluctance to persuade the Syrian opposition groups it supports to withdraw from areas controlled by the Nusra Front, al Qaida's branch in Syria.

Mr Shoigu said in the TV interview that extremists in Syria are often positioned near groups that the US considers moderate.

The Nusra Front has rebranded itself and now goes by the name of Fath al-Sham, an apparent attempt to evade Russian and US-led air strikes targeting militants. Russia has dismissed the name change as window-dressing.

AP

The battle for Syria's contested city of Aleppo has crippled its infrastructure
The battle for Syria's contested city of Aleppo has crippled its infrastructure
A Syrian rebel reads the Koran during clashes with government forces in Aleppo (AP)
A Syrian rebel reads the Koran during clashes with government forces in Aleppo (AP)
Syria's al Qaida-linked Nusra Front fighters moving forward to fight against Syrian troops and pro-government gunmen in Aleppo (AP)
Syria's al Qaida-linked Nusra Front fighters moving forward to fight against Syrian troops and pro-government gunmen in Aleppo (AP)
A street hit by shelling in Aleppo's predominantly Christian and Armenian Suleimaniyeh neighbourhood (SANA/AP)
A street hit by shelling in Aleppo's predominantly Christian and Armenian Suleimaniyeh neighbourhood (SANA/AP)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, Russian Tu-22 bombers escorted by the Su-27s fighter jets drop bombs on a target in Syria. Russia's defense minister said its warplanes have fired cruise missiles on militant positions in Syria's Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The Islamic State group has positions in Aleppo province; Idlib has the presence of the Nusra militant group. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, Russian Tu-22 bombers escorted by the Su-27s fighter jets drop bombs on a target in Syria. Russia's defense minister said its warplanes have fired cruise missiles on militant positions in Syria's Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The Islamic State group has positions in Aleppo province; Idlib has the presence of the Nusra militant group. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, a Russian Tu-95 bomber launches a cruise missile at a target in Syria. Russia's defense minister said its warplanes have fired cruise missiles on militant positions in Syria's Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The Islamic State group has positions in Aleppo province; Idlib has the presence of the Nusra militant group. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, a Russian bomber drops bombs on a target in Syria. Russia's defense minister said its warplanes have fired cruise missiles on militant positions in Syria's Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The Islamic State group has positions in Aleppo province; Idlib has the presence of the Nusra militant group. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, Russian Tu-22 bombers escorted by the Su-27s fighter jets drop bombs on a target in Syria. Russia's defense minister said its warplanes have fired cruise missiles on militant positions in Syria's Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The Islamic State group has positions in Aleppo province; Idlib has a presence of the Nusra militant group. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, Russian air force personnel load bombs onto a Tu-22 bomber in preparation for a bombing mission against targets in Syria. Russia's defense minister said its warplanes have fired cruise missiles on militant positions in Syria's Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The Islamic State group has positions in Aleppo province; Idlib has the presence of the Nusra militant group. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, a Russian Tu-95 bomber launches a cruise missile at a target in Syria. Russia's defense minister said its warplanes have fired cruise missiles on militant positions in Syria's Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The Islamic State group has positions in Aleppo province; Idlib has the presence of the Nusra militant group. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, a Russian Tu-160 bomber launches a cruise missile at a target in Syria. Russia's defense minister said its warplanes have fired cruise missiles on militant positions in Syria's Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The Islamic State group has positions in Aleppo province; Idlib has the presence of the Nusra militant group. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

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