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Kerry says in talks on Syria ceasefire, will know in days if possible

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses delegates during the first 'Thermatic Pledging Session' at the donors Conference for Syria in London, Britain February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Ben Stansall/pool

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Talks are under way about a ceasefire and humanitarian access for civilians in the five-year-old Syrian civil war and it will be clear within days whether that is possible, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday.

“The modalities of a ceasefire itself are also being discussed and the Russians have made some constructive ideas about how a ceasefire in fact could be implemented,” Kerry told reporters. “But if it’s just talks for the sake of talks in order to continue the bombing, nobody is going to accept that, and we will know that in the course of the next days.”

U.N.-led peace talks in Geneva were halted on Feb. 3 after the Syrian army, backed by Russian air strikes, advanced against rebel forces north of Aleppo, choking off humanitarian supply lines to civilians.

The talks were the first attempt to negotiate an end to Syrian’s war in two years. The opposition has said it will not negotiate unless the government stops bombarding civilian areas, lifts blockages on besieged towns and releases detainees.

Kerry said Russia and Assad were not in compliance with a U.N. Security Council resolution, which calls for immediate humanitarian access and an end to aerial bombardment of civilians.

He said there was evidence that Russia was using “dumb” bombs to kill civilians in “large numbers” in Syria.

“This has to stop,” Kerry said, “Nobody has any question about that. But it’s not going to stop just by whining about it. It’s not going to stop by walking away from the table or not engaging,” he added.

“The next days will tell the story of whether or not people are serious or people are not serious,” said Kerry, adding that talks underway were about providing quick humanitarian access to civilians and a ceasefire.

Kerry travels to Munich next week for talks with Russia, Iran and other parties involved in the Syrian conflict.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Eric Beech and Alistair Bell