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U.N. envoy hopes for "formula" to avoid "terrible battle" in Aleppo

U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference after a meeting at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

ROME (Reuters) - The U.N. envoy for Syria said on Saturday he hoped “some type of formula” could be found to avoid a “terrible battle” in Aleppo, where government forces and their allies are gaining ground in an attack aimed at taking back the whole city from rebels.

Staffan de Mistura, speaking at a Rome conference, indicated the battle for Aleppo would not last that much longer, saying “the fact is that Aleppo is not going to stay that long”.

“I was feeling it would be a terrible battle ending up by Christmas-New Year. I hope the battle will not take place, that there will be some type of formula,” he said.

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Writing by Tom Perry in Beirut; Editing by Janet Lawrence