Russia is ready to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire in Syria, deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov said on Thursday as foreign ministers gathered in Munich in a bid to restart peace talks.
“We are ready to discuss the modalities of a ceasefire,” Gatilov told journalists in Moscow, quoted by TASS state news agency. “That is what we will talk about in Munich.”
International talks to end the five-year civil war that has killed more than 260,000 people broke down earlier this month amid accusations from the West and Syrian regime opponents that Russia’s air strikes in Aleppo were targeting opposition groups and civilians.
The talks were temporarily suspended until February 25, but Gatilov said Thursday that they could “possibly start earlier.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry warned earlier this week that Russia’s bombing of opposition targets could further derail diplomatic efforts to end Syria’s brutal civil war.
Kerry is set to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Munich on Thursday to host talks with a 17-nation contact group designed to get the talks back on track.
But US frustration with Russia’s bombing in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is growing, as fears mount that the opposition will refuse to join UN-led peace talks while their cities are under fire.
Russia launched a bombing campaign in the war-torn country last year at Assad’s request, saying strikes are aimed against the Islamic State group and other jihadists.
But the West has accused Moscow of targeting more moderate groups that oppose Assad’s regime.
Russia’s defence ministry said Thursday that its air force had hit 1,596 “terrorist targets” in eight regions including Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Homs provinces in the past week.