News / Middle East

Airstrikes Rock Aleppo; Peace Talks to Resume

A man carries a body following a reported Syrian government forces air strike in the northern city of Aleppo on Feb. 4, 2014.
A man carries a body following a reported Syrian government forces air strike in the northern city of Aleppo on Feb. 4, 2014.
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VOA News
Syrian activist groups say the government renewed air raids over the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday, after Monday airstrikes left about 30 people dead.

The anti-government Aleppo Media Center says a building with children inside is among facilities that have been hit by explosive devices described as barrel bombs.  Opposition groups say several people have been killed.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Syrian government.

However, in recent days, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have been slowly advancing into rebel-held areas of Aleppo which were seized by the opposition in 2012.

Peace talks

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, right, welcomes Ahmad Jarba, left, who heads a delegation of the Syrian National Coalition prior talks in Moscow, Feb. 4, 2014.Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, right, welcomes Ahmad Jarba, left, who heads a delegation of the Syrian National Coalition prior talks in Moscow, Feb. 4, 2014.
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Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, right, welcomes Ahmad Jarba, left, who heads a delegation of the Syrian National Coalition prior talks in Moscow, Feb. 4, 2014.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, right, welcomes Ahmad Jarba, left, who heads a delegation of the Syrian National Coalition prior talks in Moscow, Feb. 4, 2014.
In another development, Russian officials said they expect the Syrian government to resume peace talks with the opposition next week, following an opening round of negotiations in Geneva that ended Friday with little progress.

The statements on Tuesday came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosted Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba for a meeting in Moscow.

Lavrov said Russia wants to keep regular contacts with the opposition, and is working with all sides to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

"We urge our European and American partners, the countries in the region to choose the same approach," Lavrov said. "We are convinced they should work with all sides in the Syrian conflict without exception - I mean of course political sides, and not terrorist groups."

Jarba said the opposition also intends to continue the talks, and that Russia plays an important role in trying to reach a political solution.

Chemical weapons

Also Tuesday, Russian state media quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying Syria plans to remove a large shipment of chemical weapons this month.

The shipments are part of a plan to rid Syria of chemical weapons by the middle of the year.  U.S. officials last week criticized Syria for what they said was the slow pace at which the process is progressing.

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