A top Russian diplomat says the Kremlin will not consider another humanitarian cease-fire in the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov spoke Monday, after a 72-hour truce expired in the city, and Russian and Syrian warplanes launched waves of new airstrikes. Moscow and Damascus insist the strikes are aimed at jihadists, while monitors and Western governments say they indiscriminately target an increasingly desperate civilian population.
Ryabkov, speaking to Interfax news agency, said any new truce would require "our opponents" to ensure what he called "appropriate behavior" by "anti-government fighters" seeking to topple the Damascus government and oust President Bashar al-Assad. In a statement, Ryabkov accused unnamed anti-government groups of sabotaging medical evacuations that had been scheduled to take place during the cease-fire.
United Nations coordinators were forced on Friday to postpone evacuations from the eastern city because groups fighting in the war-ravaged sector could not provide security assurances for medical workers.
Syrian and Russian forces had opened eight corridors to allow civilians to evacuate the city. But in a climate of widespread distrust of Syria and its Russian ally, witnesses said few civilians or rebels used the lull to escape the city's wreckage.
In a separate foreign ministry statement Monday, Moscow again called on Washington to ensure the separation of jihadist fighters in Aleppo from what it called "moderate opposition fighters" seeking to drive Assad from power.
As many as 300,000 civilians are thought to be trapped in eastern Aleppo, with little food or emergency medical supplies. No aid has entered the city since early July, and the United Nations warns that food rations will run out by the end of this month.