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Russia says not currently considering new Aleppo truce

Russia said Monday it was not currently considering a new truce in the Syrian city of Aleppo after a brief ceasefire ended at the weekend.

“The question of renewing the humanitarian pause is not relevant now,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax news agency in the first official comment from Moscow on why it did not extend the ceasefire further.

Heavy fighting resumed in Aleppo on Saturday after the end of a three-day ceasefire declared by government ally Russia.

In order to renew the ceasefire, “our opponents must ensure appropriate behaviour by the anti-government groups that in particular sabotaged the medical evacuation that was intended during the humanitarian pause,” Ryabkov said.

He chastised the US-led coalition, saying that it was criticising Damascus and Moscow instead of “really exerting influence on the opposition, the rebels.”

“Over the last three days, what was needed did not happen,” he said.

Ryabkov also said that he did not see the “conditions” for ministerial-level negotiations on Syria before the US elections on November 8, after a Lausanne meeting on October 15 that ended with no breakthrough.

“It’s almost no time until the US elections. To be honest, I don’t see the conditions for a ministerial meeting,” he said, insisting that Damascus and Moscow were fulfilling international agreements.

The Kremlin had hailed the humanitarian ceasefire as a “manifestation of goodwill” as it faced mounting criticism over its bombing of rebel-held eastern Aleppo in support of a brutal regime offensive on the city.

But the Kremlin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had expressed concern at the small numbers of civilians and fighters leaving the city, with only a handful reported to have crossed through a single passage.

Lavrov on Friday accused fighters from the Fateh al-Sham Front and influential Islamist Ahrar al-Sham group of obstructing the departure of civilians and combatants prepared to leave, saying they used “threats, blackmail and brute force.”