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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Russia said to send more warplanes to Syria, diplomacy 'on life support'

MOSCOW/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Russia is sending more warplanes to Syria to ramp up its air campaign, a Russian newspaper reported on Friday, as the United States said diplomacy to halt the violence was "on life support" but not dead yet.
Fighting continued to intensify a week into a new Russian-backed Syrian government offensive to capture rebel-held eastern Aleppo and crush the last urban stronghold of a revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that began in 2011.
Moscow and Assad spurned a U.S.-Russian brokered ceasefire agreed to this month and launched attacks on rebel-held areas in Aleppo in potentially the most decisive battle in the Syrian civil war.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by telephone for a third straight day, with the top Russian diplomat saying Moscow was ready to consider more ways to normalize the situation in Aleppo.
But Lavrov criticized Washington's failure to separate moderate rebel groups from those the Russians call terrorists, which had allowed forces led by the group formerly known as the Nusra front to violate the U.S.-Russian truce agreed on Sept. 9.
The United States made clear on Friday that it would not, at least for now, carry through on the threat it made on Wednesday to halt the diplomacy if Russia did not take immediate steps to halt the violence. READ MORE