Russia has reportedly suggested the possibility of a ceasefire in Syria, hours ahead of a crucial meeting of major powers in Germany on how to end the five-year-old Syrian civil war.
Citing an unnamed Western official, the Reuters news agency reported late on Wednesday that Russia proposed a ceasefire to begin on March 1.
Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from the U.N. headquarters in New York, said the Russian ambassador to the U.N. did not confirm the report. “No agreement on this [ceasefire] has been reached yet. The Russian ambassador here at the U.N. has been talking in general terms about a ceasefire in Syria being part of the negotiations. We asked him for more details and he said he simply will not provide any more,” Elizondo said.
“A lot of the details might start to come to light in less than 24 hours in Munich, when the International Syria Support Group will be meeting to start talking about getting the Geneva talks back on track,” he added.
A surge in fighting in Syria’s Aleppo province has displaced about 50,000 people, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned – adding that supply routes for aid had been cut, putting civilians under “enormous pressure”.
Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters, reportedly backed by Russian air strikes, have driven Islamist insurgents from a former Syrian military air base north of Aleppo, monitors said on Thursday.
Russian aircraft had carried out at least 30 raids against the remnants of the Islamist force and Kurdish militia had captured most of the Menagh base, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Reports quoting the Russia defence ministry say Russian planes have carried out 510 military sorties in Syria in the last week.