U.S., Russia Propose Safe Exit for Aleppo Rebels, Opposition Officials Say; Russia Denies

Implementation would take place over a 48-hour period, and UN oversight would be sought, opposition officials say; 'agreement has not yet been reached, U.S. insists on unacceptable terms,' Russian diplomat says.

Reuters
Reuters
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Syrian pro-government forces hold Syrian flags bearing the portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad as they patrol Aleppo's Bab al-Nairab neighborhood on December 10, 2016
Syrian pro-government forces hold Syrian flags bearing the portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad as they patrol Aleppo's Bab al-Nairab neighborhood on December 10, 2016Credit: GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP
Reuters
Reuters

The United States and Russia on Sunday tabled a proposal to rebels in Aleppo that would offer safe passage from the city for fighters, their families and other civilians, three opposition officials with Aleppo rebel groups told Reuters.

However, Russia said has not reached agreement with the U.S. on withdrawing militants from Syria's Aleppo.

"What western agencies are reporting does not necessarily correspond with reality," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, adding that Russia was working to create the necessary conditions for the safe extraction of people from Aleppo.

"The issue of withdrawing militants is the subject of separate agreements. This agreement has not yet been reached, largely because the United States insists on unacceptable terms," RIA quoted him as saying.

Ryabkov said that talks between Russian and U.S. experts would continue in Geneva, RIA reported.

The opposition officials said rebel groups in Aleppo have yet to respond to the proposal that would require fighters from the jihadist group formerly known as Nusra Front to head to the northwestern province of Idlib, but allow fighters from other groups to go to other destinations including areas near the Turkish border northeast of Aleppo, a copy of the proposal seen by Reuters said.

Implementation would be carried out over a 48-hour period, and UN oversight would be sought. Fighters would be allowed to take their light weapons with them, but must leave heavy weapons behind, the proposal said.

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