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Wednesday January 17th, 2018 9:02PM

The Latest: Syrian FM: New Aleppo ceasefire possible

By The Associated Press
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BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

Syria's foreign minister says government forces could agree to another cessation of fighting around the city of Aleppo, but only if it receives guarantees from rebel forces that civilians would be allowed to leave the city.

At a news conference with his Russian counterpart in Moscow, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Friday that the recent so-called "humanitarian pause" in the Aleppo fighting was ruined by fighters whom he called terrorists firing on the evacuation corridors.

"We are ready to again repeat this attempt after we receive guarantees that confirm that the countries supporting these terrorist organizations are prepared to act so that civilians could use the cease-fire," he said.

___

2:30 p.m.

Syrian state media says seven civilians have been killed by rebel shelling on government-controlled areas of Aleppo.

The SANA news agency reported that 70 others were injured in the contested city Friday.

Rebels launched a large-scale offensive to break the government's siege of Aleppo's opposition-held, eastern districts with three explosive-laden vehicles and dozens of rockets to target the government-controlled western districts.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is reporting that 15 civilians have been killed in the rebel bombardment, and over 100 injured.

___

2 p.m.

An official with al-Qaida's branch in Syria says a French member of the group carried out a suicide attack in the northern city of Aleppo against government positions.

The Fatah al-Sham Front official said the French citizen drove a tank rigged with explosives and parked it near government positions then detonated it from a distance. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to brief the media, said the Frenchman then drove another tank into the same place and detonated himself. He did not reveal the identity of the Frenchman.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that a Frenchman carried out a suicide attack.

The attack comes as part of a large-scale rebel offensive to break the government's siege of opposition-held areas.

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11:15 a.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is hosting the foreign ministers of Syria and Iran in Moscow as the Syrian army's siege of the rebel-held districts of the city of Aleppo continues.

Lavrov said in televised remarks on Friday at the start of the talks that Russia will keep supporting the Syrian government while the West is considering news sanctions to put pressure on both countries to halt an offense against rebel-held parts of Aleppo, which had drawn international outrage.

Lavrov will talk with with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif separately before the three of them sit down for three-way talks later Friday. Iran is another key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

___

10:45 a.m.

Syrian rebel groups say they have launched a large-scale offensive to break the government's siege of eastern Aleppo, a contested city in the north of the country and the current focal point of the six-year war.

The Islamic Front rebel coalition announced on Twitter Friday morning that the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham group targeted a military airport to the east of the city with Grad rockets and destroyed a government position to the west of the city.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said rebels detonated two car bombs against government positions to the city's southwest and attacked with more than 150 rockets.

Ammar Sakkar, the military spokesman for the Fastaqim faction inside the city said "all the revolutionary factions, without exception, are participating in the battle."

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
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