The Syrian flag was hoisted over the Aleppo Citadel after the recent advances of the army in the city
Syrian government forces have suspended “active military activities” against militants in eastern Aleppo to enable the withdrawal of civilians from the city, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced while speaking in Hamburg, Germany.
Lavrov was speaking on Thursday on the sidelines of a meeting of ministers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
The Russian foreign minister also urged the UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to “stop sabotaging” the Geneva Syria peace talks.
Speaking to reporters, he also expressed hope that those responsible for the recent attack on a Russian mobile hospital in western Aleppo will be brought to justice. The assault happened earlier this week and left two female paramedics dead and one chief pediatrician severely injured.
“We are just doing our job, probably not everyone likes it, and a recent targeted strike against our hospital is yet more proof of that. But I am convinced that all measures will be taken to punish those responsible, and to prevent similar [attacks] in the future,” Lavrov said.
He noted that the US State Department previously expressed regret over the incident, but emphasized that “it has to clarify” all the circumstances. However, according to Foreign Minister “in cases when the Syrian government can be suspected, Americans are not clarifying anything, but are immediately heading to the microphone, demanding [the perpetrators] be punished.”
On Thursday, Lavrov also met with his US counterpart John Kerry, and later in the day held a telephone call with him. Resolving the Syrian issue was at the center of these talks, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced. In particular, the officials discussed ways to increase joint work between military experts from both countries.
Lavrov said that he and Kerry managed to reach an agreement which includes a meeting on Saturday in Geneva “between our [Russia-US] military experts and diplomats.” The gathering should help complete the negotiations on the US proposals on Aleppo and Syria in general, which have been “sporadically” ongoing over the past days.
In the telephone call with Lavrov, Kerry agreed that military experts from Russia and the US should cooperate closely on the withdrawal of the militants from Aleppo, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“Based on the US side’s declared readiness to facilitate the withdrawal of militants from that city, the sides agreed to look into practical details of this process at the expert level in the nearest future,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Moscow is fully determined to complete the battle against terrorists, Lavrov said.
“Our strategy is very simple – it is entirely based on a UN Security Council resolution, which envisions to mercilessly fight terrorists till their complete destruction, while at the same time solving humanitarian problems of the civilian population and starting a political process,” he said.
Related: A report from Syrian TV, not subtitled but still eloquent, about the current situation in Aleppo: