Russia says ready to consider more ways to normalize situation in Syria's Aleppo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday that Moscow was ready to consider additional ways to “normalize” the situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the ministry said.

Lavrov told Kerry over the phone that the ceasefire agreement brokered by Moscow and Washington had been violated numerous times in eastern parts of Aleppo by forces led by the group formerly known as the Nusra Front.

“The Russian side reaffirmed its readiness to continue looking into additional possibilities, together with the American partners, on normalizing the situation in Aleppo,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Washington’s failure to separate terrorists groups from the moderate opposition in Syria, had allowed Nusra to “hide behind other armed groups of the opposition with which Washington is cooperating,” the ministry said.

The call, on Washington’s initiative, came a day after Kerry said there was no point pursuing further negotiations with Russia over Syria “in the context of the kind of bombing taking place”.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the two leaders condemned what they called barbarous Russian and Syrian government air strikes on eastern Aleppo.

A Russian newspaper reported on Friday that Russia was sending more warplanes to Syria to ramp up its air strikes and fighting intensified in Aleppo, a week into the Russian-backed government offensive to capture the city and crush the last remaining urban stronghold of the rebellion.

Lavrov asked Kerry to force the opposition in Syria to “stop the sabotage” of the United Nations Security Council decisions on conducting intra-Syrian negotiations.

“Lavrov emphasized that Russia remains open to a dialogue with the United States on all key issues of the Syrian settlement,” the ministry said.

Reporting by Lidia Kelly; editing by Ralph Boulton