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Group says 3 killed despite cease-fire in Syria

24 September 2016

The monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is reporting that two children and an adult civilian have been killed since the U.S. -Russian-brokered cease-fire took effect three days ago. Al-Qaida and Islamic State group militants, who are excluded from the cease-fire, are not present in the area, he said.

The council will hold closed consultations later on Friday.

The United States warned Russian Federation on Friday that potential military cooperation envisioned by a cease-fire deal in Syria will not happen unless humanitarian aid begins to flow into Aleppo and other besieged communities.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest downplayed the significance of divisions between the State and Defense departments on the wisdom of deepening military cooperation with Russian Federation. Critics say the blocking of aid is merely an attempt by Syria's government to gain an upper hand in that battle. Syrian state TV said bulldozers began clearing the road on the northwestern edge of Aleppo that leads into besieged rebel-held neighborhoods to make way for the convoys. The White House said he expressed "deep concern" that Syria continues to block the delivery of humanitarian aid, despite decreased violence across the country.

Earnest says the crux of the agreement has always been the need for Russian Federation to use its influence on Assad.

Laerke also clarified United Nations comments a day earlier, saying that the United Nations does not require authorization from Syria's government for cross-border aid deliveries under the terms of a Security Council resolution from 2014.

One of the most powerful opposition groups in the northern province of Aleppo has denied that government forces withdrew from a main road leading into rebel-held parts of Syria's largest city.

Russian Federation is pushing for the U.N. Security Council to adopt a draft resolution next week endorsing the deal. OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke said "it is my understanding" that United Nations officials are waiting for assurances that conditions are safe enough for convoys to proceed from Turkey to eastern Aleppo. Several previous negotiated cease-fires have unraveled and efforts to hold the peace talks have stalled.

Russia's military announced on Thursday evening that the Syrian military was beginning to withdraw from a contested route to Aleppo, suggesting a breakthrough to the deadlock could be coming.

Savchenko asked Moscow for permission to reverse the pullback if the rebels fail to comply.

Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir of the Russian military's General Staff declared a readiness to extend the cease-fire for another 72 hours, adding that Moscow expects Washington to take "resolute action" to end violations by the US -backed opposition units to prevent the situation from "spinning out of control".

The Russian military said it has complained to the U.S.at a joint working group in Geneva about the opposition's failure to pull back in sync with the Syrian army, but received no immediate response.

The state-run Anadolu news agency says three USA flags were hung on Thursday around a compound of the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, and were still visible from Turkey on Friday afternoon. Earlier, another senior Russian diplomat, Mikhail Bogdanov, said the talks could resume in October.

According to the most recent estimates, 400,000 to 500,000 people have died so far in Syria's five-year-old civil war.

Elsewhere in the same province, an airstrike Thursday on the IS-held town of Mayadeen killed at least four people and wounded dozens, said opposition activists and Deir el-Zour 24, an activist collective.

The Syrian Observatory for Human rights said that Syrian government troops had handed over control of the road leading to a rebel-held area of Aleppo that has been encircled by government troops for almost two months and is badly in need of food and medicine.

It wasn't known who carried out the airstrike.