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The New Arab

US not involved in secret Syrian-rebel talks with Russia

Many have warned that the offensive in Aleppo could be over by Christmas [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 1 December, 2016

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The UN is currently trying to draft a resolution that can improve the situation in Aleppo while Moscow meets with rebel groups in Ankara without the US' involvement.
Four Syrian rebel groups have reportedly been engaged in secret talks over a potential ceasefire with Russia in Turkey.

The meeting was made conspicuous by the lack of a United States’ presence at the meetings, possibly indicating a new normal for a world under newly elected US President Donald Trump. 

“The Russians and the Turks are talking without the US now,” one opposition figure told The Financial Times.

“It [Washington] is completely shut out of these talks and doesn’t even know what’s going on in Ankara.”

It appears that talks have not been largely successful, possibly due to the fact that Russia has labelled the rebels as "Islamist terrorists."

Members of the UN have spoken in strong terms against the current situation in Aleppo, with one top diplomat warning of the city becoming a “giant graveyard".

"For the sake of humanity we call on – we plead – with the parties and those with influence to do everything in their power to protect civilians and enable access to the besieged part of eastern Aleppo before it becomes one giant graveyard," said Stephen O'Brien, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs at the UN.

Samantha Power, US permanent representative to the UN, has warned that her country may seek alternative avenues of redress if Russia vetos a draft resolution on Aleppo at the UN’s security council.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled fighting in Aleppo as Syrian regime troops, backed by Shia militias from all over the Middle East, attempt to destroy a rebellion in the east of Aleppo.

A siege on the rebel-held east of Aleppo has been upheld for months and food and medical supplies are quickly running out.

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