Russian Federation says Aleppo combat stopped after rebels cornered, civilians disagree

A military source told the Reuters news agency: "Until now, 32 neighbourhoods have been liberated out of an original 40 in east Aleppo.the advance is going according to plan and is sometimes faster than expected". The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said if the district is retaken rebel forces will be reduced to a "war of attrition" with the army.

In comments published Thursday in the state-owned al-Watan newspaper, Assad in said he would no longer consider truce offers, adding that such proposals, particularly by the Americans, often come when the rebels are in a "difficult spot".

In a statement Tuesday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said it will not approve any cease-fire initiative that doesn't include rebel evacuation from eastern Aleppo. Moscow said rebels used such pauses in the past to reinforce.

Prime Minister Theresa May joined the leaders of the US, Canada, France, Germany and Italy to issue a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire to allow aid to reach eastern Aleppo, where Syrian regime forces have been bombarding rebel-held areas.

Russia's United Nations ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the two sides "are close to an agreement on the basic elements". Moscow wants negotiations with Washington to facilitate such an evacuation.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations acknowledges that diplomacy has failed the people of Aleppo - but says Russian Federation is largely at fault for blocking humanitarian aid and cease-fire efforts.

He said the two intended "to connect in the morning to see where we are".

Russian Federation and Turkey are also discussing the deliveries of humanitarian aid to Aleppo.

Rebel fire intensified on government-controlled areas in Aleppo as the Syrian military and allied militias pushed their way into areas controlled by the rebels in recent days.

The statement accused Russian Federation and Iran of failing to support a political process to end the bloodshed in Syria, instead concentrating on supporting the Assad regime.

US Secretary of State John Kerry held fresh talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Germany Wednesday on efforts to halt fighting and withdraw rebels from the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 288 civilians have been killed in the province since October 20, when Syrian government and Russian aircraft intensified airstrikes.

More than 730 people have been killed in Aleppo since the start of a November 15 government offensive and 80,000 have fled, the Syrian Observatory added Wednesday. "The weather's very cold, dangerously so, yesterday it went below zero. Food is running out, the little food that is available is being sold at extremely inflated prices". Even though morale in the east has been shredded by intense airstrikes and a crippling government siege, many civilians still say they fear for the future that awaits them with a government victory.

Insurgents, meanwhile, have fought back ferociously inside Aleppo.

Why is Aleppo such a big deal?

Many of Aleppo's ancient buildings have been destroyed in the fighting - including much of its UNESCO World Heritage-listed old city.

Apart from their support for rebels fighting against Assad, Western countries are also taking part in a USA -led air campaign against Islamic State, the Sunni Muslim militant group which broke away from other anti-Assad groups to proclaim a caliphate in territory in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

Assad also stated that Turkey had done its best to protect the militant stronghold in Aleppo, but it has failed. Western countries say the group gains strength from the fury unleashed by Assad's military crackdown on his enemies.

Alongside the Geneva meeting, foreign ministers from the Western and Middle Eastern backers of Syria's weakened opposition, including Kerry, will gather in Paris today for talks.

Food has nearly run out, and fuel stocks are so low that rescue workers say they are often unable to reach the wounded.

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