US, Russia fail to reach deal on Syria truce

01 September 2016, 01:07 | Isaac Mcdaniel

There is still no substantial agreement between Russian Federation and the United States on effective cooperation on Syria, US Department of Defense spokesperson Peter Cook said, Sputnik reports.

Russian Federation backed a 48-hour ceasefire in Aleppo ahead of Friday's talks but United Nations officials said they were still waiting for parties on the ground for the effort to go ahead.

US Secretary of State John Kerry says he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "have achieved clarity" on a path to restore a truce in Syria but details remain to be worked out.

Yet the comments by Kerry and Lavrov also reflect how the two countries remain far apart on big issues, including Assad's fate and the USA insistence that his forces, as well as Russia's, not target moderate opposition groups as they pursue the Nusra and Islamic State, whose headquarters are in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

Their failure to reach an overall agreement underscores the increasingly complex situation on the ground in Syria, including deep divisions and mistrust dividing Washington and Moscow, as well as the intermingling of US-backed militants with the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group and the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. Turkey's recent decision to intervene militarily in Syria also highlights the nature of the conflict as a proxy war between regional powers.

"We want to be very measured in our expectations as we go forward into this meeting, but we believe the meeting is worth having", State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said Wednesday.

Staffan de Mistura, the U.N.'s Syria envoy, told reporters in Geneva earlier this week that Friday's talks are important and could make progress toward getting back to political negotiations.

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"Today I can say that we achieved clarity on the path forward" for a revamped cessation of hostilities, the top USA diplomat said. However, as in Moscow, neither Kerry nor Lavrov would describe them in detail.

As a possible sign of tightening cooperation, Moscow vowed Thursday to work with the United States on a response after a UN investigation found that the Syrian government had carried out at least two chemical attacks. Last week, the US had to call for Russian help when Syrian warplanes struck an area not far from where USA troops were operating.

On that point, he said the United States has not fulfilled its promise to separate the rebel groups it supports from Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, which has been fighting side by side with US -backed forces.

In the days ahead the technical teams, which include U.S. and Russian military and intelligence experts, will try to figure out ways to separate the opposition groups, backed by the U.S. and Gulf Arab countries, from the jihadis.

The US and Russian Federation are aiming to strengthen military cooperation in the fight against the IS.

Meanwhile, in a blow to the opposition, rebel forces and civilians in the besieged Damascus suburb of Daraya were to be evacuated on Friday after agreeing to surrender the town late Thursday after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that left the sprawling area in ruins.

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