MESOP : “THE DEAL AHEAD” : Syria Daily: US & Russia Try to Close Deal for Temporary Ceasefire

September 09 – 07:38 2016 – By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – The US and Russia will try again on Friday to close a deal on temporary ceasefires in Syria.US Secretary of State John Kerry flew into Geneva on Friday for another round of discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, with American officials warning that the talks could not be indefinite.“Senior State Department officials” briefing reporters on Kerry’s flight talked down the prospect of a final breakthrough, but said “steady progress” had been made in recent weeks.

“We’ve been taking issues off the table because we’ve reached an understanding on them and continue to have some issues that remain outstanding and that we have been unable to close,” one official said. “We can’t guarantee at this point that we are on the cusp of finishing.”

US officials had said last week that the deal was close to completion, but Russia pulled back from a confirmed agreement. Instead, Moscow concentrated on intense airstrikes that helped the Syrian military — along with Iranian units, Hezbollah, and Iranian-led foreign militia — recapture territory near Aleppo and renew the siege on Syria’s largest city.

Some analysts also speculated that Iran, which has insisted on the retention of President Assad in power, had held Russia back from a final deal.

Under the proposals, “humanitarian pauses” would allow aid into areas like Aleppo. However, opposition groups have warned that — if Russia and pro-Assad forces control the only route into the city — pro-regime districts will be assured of supplies while pro-opposition areas will remain hostage to a siege.A US official insisted on Thursday that the agreement would have to end the siege, imposed in early July by Russia and the Assad regime. The US and Russia are also reportedly concluding arrangements for intelligence sharing on strikes against the Islamic State and the jihadists of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra. On Thursday night, an airstrike killed the leading JFS commander near Aleppo and seriously wounded others as they met in a village in Aleppo Province. It is unclear whether the attack was by an American or Russian warplane.