December 12, 2016 / 8:26 PM / 2 years ago

Russia wanted delay in Aleppo ceasefire, but unacceptable to U.S.: State Department

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Monday that Russia told the United States it wanted a ceasefire in east Aleppo, Syria, delayed for several days, a proposal the agency said was unacceptable in view of the continued attacks on civilians.

Smoke rises as seen from a government-held area of Aleppo, Syria December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

The Syrian army, backed by Russia, made new advances on Monday after taking the Sheikh Saeed district, leaving rebels trapped in a tiny part of the city.

“Rather than accepting the U.S. proposal for an immediate cessation, the Russians informed us that a cessation could not start for several days, meaning that the assault by the regime and its supporters will continue until any agreement will go into effect,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told a news briefing in response to a question about weekend talks in Geneva.

“Given the dire situation in Aleppo and the reports of continued attacks on civilians and infrastructure, this was just simply not acceptable.”

Kirby said U.S. and Russian officials were continuing their talks in Geneva, although there was for now an unbridgeable gap between their positions.

“Our teams are still trying to work this out,” he said. “While we would still like to get there ... I think we’re certainly at an impasse right now.”

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Eric Beech and Peter Cooney

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