Russia was reported on Friday to be sending more warplanes to Syria to ramp up its air campaign as the United States said it had not yet given up on finding a diplomatic resolution, Reuters reports.
The latest strikes come 10 days into a 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.
Saturday’s air strikes focused on major supply lines into rebel-held areas – the Castello Road and Malah district – while fighting raged in the Suleiman al Halabi neighborhood, the front line to the north of Aleppo’s Old City.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by telephone for a third day on Friday, with Russia’s top 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 it would not, at least for now, carry through a threat made on Wednesday to halt the diplomacy if Russia did not take immediate steps to end the violence.
Moscow and Assad spurned the ceasefire to launch the new offensive, potentially the biggest and most decisive battle of the civil war, which is now in its sixth year.