Russia calls for 48-hour extension of Syrian ceasefire

Moscow has called for the ceasefire in Syria, in place since late Monday, to be extended for another 48 hours, the Russian General Staff says. It adds that militants have violated the ceasefire 60 times since it began.

"In accordance with the Russian-US agreements, the existing 48-hour ceasefire is expiring today at 7pm [Moscow time – 16:00 GMT]. We note that recently the cessation of hostilities was observed in full. As of this morning the overall number of violations by the militants has reached 60,” Russian General Staff official Viktor Poznikhir said on Wednesday.

He added that Russia understands the necessity of the full implementation of the agreements reached, and that it is “in favor of extending the ceasefire across Syria for another 48 hours.”

The Russian military also announced it has carried out airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists who were preparing an assault on the key city of Palmyra, liberated from IS earlier this year. According to the Russian General Staff, 250 militants were killed in the strikes.

“The fight against ISIS continues. Yesterday Russian Aerospace Forces carried out airstrikes in the region north of Palmyra, where ISIS fighters have gathered for the assault on the city,” Poznikhir said.

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Syria ceasefire violated 23 times by opposition forces – Russian military

The so-called moderate rebel forces in Syria have violated the nationwide ceasefire on 23 occasions since it was put in place on Monday, the Russian military says. Six people died in Aleppo overnight while 10 others have been wounded.

The Syrian government is abiding by the ceasefire, Russian General Staff official Viktor Poznikhir said.

"Syrian government forces have completely stopped [their] shelling, except for the areas occupied by ISIS [Islamic State/IS] and Jabhat al-Nusra militants. Unfortunately that can’t be said about the armed forces of the moderate opposition, backed by the United States,” he said.

US-backed rebel forces have shelled residential areas as well as Syrian Army positions, according to the Russian General Staff.

Six people died on Monday night following the shelling of Aleppo by the moderate opposition forces, with 10 others receiving injuries, Colonel Sergey Kopytsin from the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria said Tuesday.

"Five violations of the cessation of hostilities by the ‘moderate opposition’ in the city of Aleppo, which killed six and injured 10 people, were registered overnight following the introduction of the ceasefire," Kopytsin said.

The 48-hour ceasefire in Syria brokered by Russia and the US came into effect on Monday at 7pm Damascus time (16:00 GMT). The Syrian Army later announced it will abide by an even longer term of seven days.

The ceasefire is part of a broader peace plan agreed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart, John Kerry, last Friday in Geneva. A key component of the deal is the delivery of aid to the civilian population of the war-torn city of Aleppo.

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'Never mind the US, Russia’s the one losing patience over Syria ceasefire chaos' - Chief of Staff

The Russian military says Washington still won’t provide a list of groups it considers terrorist, allowing jihadists to regroup and escape Russian-led air raids on their positions, the head of the Russian General Staff said.

Valery Gerasimov’s statement comes in response to one from US Secretary of State John Kerry last week, in which he said Washington is running out of patience regarding truce violations in Syria. The ceasefire brokered by Russia and the United States in February doesn’t include Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) positions, as well as other formations considered to be terrorists by the United Nations Security Council.

"Russia needs to understand that our patience is not infinite. In fact, it is very limited with whether or not Assad is going to be held accountable," Kerry said last Wednesday. "It is very clear that the cessation of hostilities is frayed and at risk, and that it is critical for a genuine cessation to be put in place."

In response to Kerry's statement, the head of the Russian General Staff warned it is, in fact, Russia that is growing impatient with the US over Washington's refusal to cooperate.

"If anyone’s patience on Syria is waning, it is ours, not the United States. We are in full compliance with our obligations to maintain the ceasefire and ensure national reconciliation in Syria. The American side always has problems with the ‘opposition under its control’," Gerasimov said.

"Our US partners are still undecided where there are opposition forces and where there are ‘turncoats’ from international terrorist organizations."

READ MORE: Washington won’t map areas of Syria controlled by US-backed opposition – Russian MoD

Russia has for months been urging Washington to produce a shared map of the positions of fighting forces to avoid incidents and prevent targeting those groups fighting IS and Jibhat Al Nusra in Syria. The US hasn’t shared those coordinates.

"As a result, terrorists in Syria are actively regrouping and tensions are soaring again. It cannot continue this way indefinitely," Grasimov said, adding that the Russian Defense Ministry has supplied the US with a list of its terrorist targets for three months.

Gerasimov went on to blame the US for double standards concerning what constitutes ceasefire violations.

"In their opinion missile bombardments of Syrian government troops and communities by militants should be considered by all as ‘insignificant violations’ of the ceasefire. But any proportionate response to the militants by the Syrian military are at once declared as disproportionate strikes on the opposition," Gerasimov said.

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Lavrov, Kerry: Syria meeting sees progress, agrees to turn truce into real ceasefire

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry have stated that there is progress in Syria peace talks after a meeting in Vienna, also saying that the powers there agreed to turn the Syria truce into a real ceasefire.

“I see the confirmation of the entire basis that our work is based on as the main result of today’s International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting. That is the joint statement of the ISSG and the resolutions of the UN Security Council numbers 2218, 2254 and 2268,” Lavrov said.

@PeterGOliver_RT outlines 3 key points on Ceasefire, humanitarian aid, political process.

I’d like to stress that we’ve made progress in all directions of our work, namely the cessation of hostilities, the expansion of the humanitarian assistance and the political process,” he added.

John Kerry also announced that the ISSG sees progress in the situation, stating, however, that specific actions should be taken to make real changes.

“We moved the ball forward. [But] to make all of this more than words on a page, some determined actions will have to be taken to make it happen. No one can be remotely satisfied with the situation in Syria,” Kerry said.

@PeterGOliver_RT we have a framework for peace. The biggest challenge we have now is the put in place of the plan. Says some sides shouldn't have veto

Lavrov said that the level of violence on the ground in Syria has gone down significantly, while humanitarian access has improved in many parts of the country.

As for the political process, Lavrov noted that there had been another round of talks concerning the political transition, giving the grounds for another meeting.

@PeterGOliver_RT # disagrees with that no political solution while in power. govt best and only option in fight against terrorism

Kerry outlined the areas that the group will focus its actions in the near future, particularly intensifying efforts to make warring parties stop all violence and to ensure that the opposition disassociate themselves from Islamic State and Al Nusra extremists. The agenda also includes expanding the delivery of humanitarian aid and facilitating agreements between various sides in Syria for the mutual release of detainees.

The secretary of state also noted that the peace process was endangered by “bad actors,” or parties who pledge support for the cessation of hostilities and at the same time ally themselves with violent factions when they choose to.

The peace is endangered by irresponsible actions of those who seek a different outcome [to the peace process]. They’re actors on both sides,” Kerry said.

“The stakes are too high and the conflict is too long to succumb to bad actors or avoid consequences to sides who have [a separate] agenda.”

He said the members of the ISSG agreed that if a party to the cessation of hostilities does not comply, it can be reported to the monitoring group and be excluded from the peace process.

In order to bring an end to the conflict in Syria, those involved in the conflict, with conflicting agendas, will have to prioritize peace,” Kerry added.

The powers in Vienna, however, failed to agree on a new date for peace talks between the warring sides in Syria, Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy to the country, said in a joint press conference with Kerry and Lavrov.

“Intra-Syria talks are still in progress,” De Mistura said. “The issue is still waiting for some type of concrete outcome of this meeting, but we cannot wait too long, we want to keep the momentum.” He added that peace talks “will become credible when there is credible cessation of hostilities and credible humanitarian aid” delivery.

Tuesday’s talks authorized air drops to improve the humanitarian situation and outlined the locations where aid deliveries are to be made.

The meeting of the ISSG group lasted for over five hours. Previously, ISSG members met in Munich, Germany, in February. At that time, the various sides agreed to work for a reduction of violence in the region, which is supposed to turn into a full ceasefire within a week’s time. The truce, however, does not include organizations which are considered terrorists by the UN Security Council.

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US, Russia work to hold fragile Syria cease-fire together

PARIS (AP) — The United States and Russia worked Monday to hold together a revived truce in Syria, calling on both Syria's government and opposition groups to restrain themselves even as a five-day cease-fire in the northern city of Aleppo was set to expire.

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Russian Foreign Minister Criticizes US Approach on Syria

Moscow, Apr 25 (Prensa Latina) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday described as simplistic the US approach on the proposal to fragmentize Syria in zones of influence for an alleged effective control of the ceasefire.

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