Germany says no proposals for sanctions against Russia over Syria
Reuters, Oct 5 2016

There are no international proposals to impose sanctions on Russia over its role in Syria, a spokesman for Germany’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday, shortly before officials from a group of Western countries meet in Berlin to discuss the crisis. A German foreign ministry spokesman said when asked about the possibility of sanctions at a regular government news conference:

At the moment, I know no one, either in Berlin or anywhere else, who has such proposals.

Senior boxtops from Pindostan, Britain, France, Italy and Germany are due to meet later in Berlin to try to find ways to stem the conflict in Syria. The German Foreign Ministry said:

FM Steinmeier will meet UN’s de Mistura later on Wednesday on the question of how to improve the humanitarian situation.

Putin, Erdogan discuss Syria over phone
Reuters, Oct 5 2016

MOSCOW – The Kremlin said in a statement:

Putin and Erdogan discussed over the phone on Wednesday the need to increase the international community’s efforts to build a peaceful political process in Syria, to create conditions for de-escalation of the situation and to address the acute humanitarian problems was emphasized.

France’s Ayrault travels to Russia & Pindostan to push UNSCR
John Irish, Reuters, Oct 5 2016

PARIS – France’s foreign minister will travel to Russia and Pindostan on Thursday and Friday to try to persuade both sides to adopt a UNSCR to impose a ceasefire in Syria. Jean-Marc Ayrault, who has accused Syria, backed by Russia and Iran, of carrying out war crimes as part of an “all-out war” on its people, travels to Moscow on Thursday and Washington on Friday. Ayrault’s ministry said:

This trip is in the framework of efforts by France to get a UNSCR adopted opening the path for a ceasefire in Aleppo and aid access for populations that need it so much.

The UNSC began negotiations on Monday on a French and Spanish draft resolution that urges Russia and Pindostan to ensure an immediate truce in Aleppo and to “put an end to all military flights over the city.” Russia’s Vitaly Churkin said on Monday that Moscow was engaged in discussions on the draft text even if he not especially enthusiastic on its language. French officials have said that if Moscow were to oppose their resolution, they would be ready to put it forward anyway to force Moscow into a veto. The draft text asks Ban Ki-moon to propose options for a UN-supervised monitoring of a truce and threatens to “take further measures” in the event of non-compliance by “any party to the Syrian domestic conflict,” and urges Russia and Pindostan “to ensure the immediate implementation of the cessation of hostilities, starting with Aleppo, and, to that effect, to put an end to all military flights over the city.” A French diplomatic source said:

It’s all that’s left. We’re not fools. The Russians aren’t going to begin respecting human rights from one day to the next, but it’s all we have to put pressure on them.

Syrian army says it will reduce Aleppo air strikes
Reuters, Oct 5 2016 1640 EDT

Syria’s army will reduce air strikes and shelling on rebel-held eastern Aleppo on humanitarian grounds, it said on Wednesday, after mounting international criticism of it and Russia. Last month, the army, backed by Russian jets, launched a new offensive involving one of the five-year-old war’s heaviest bombardments in eastern Aleppo after a week-long ceasefire collapsed. Air strikes and shelling on rebel-held eastern Aleppo, and insurgent shelling of the government-held west of the city, have killed hundreds of civilians since the offensive began on Sep 19, according to residents and war monitors. The ferocity of the bombardment, which has included repeated air strikes on hospitals in rebel-held areas, has drawn intense criticism from aid agencies, with the UN’s rights chief on Tuesday warning it may amount to a war crime. It has also created new friction between the Pindostan and Russia and led to Washington breaking off talks with Moscow over renewing the ceasefire. In a statement distributed by a Syrian military source, the army’s general command said its decision on Wednesday to reduce air strikes and shelling came after it had succeeded in cutting off all entry roads into Aleppo used by insurgents. It said the decision had been taken to improve conditions for civilians, whom it said were being used as human shields, and to allow people who wanted to leave to get to safer areas. Since the offensive began, the army and its allies have made territorial gains in the northern part of Aleppo, capturing the Handarat refugee camp, and have also taken control of smaller areas in the south and in the city center. The Syrian military source also said the army had on Wednesday gained control of several factories in the industrial district of al-Oweija, south of Handarat camp. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the government’s gains in that area and said that fierce battles were raging on other fronts in Aleppo, including around Bustan Pasha and Suleiman al-Halabi.

Qatar sees foreign intervention ‘changing equation’ of Syria war
Reuters, Oct 5 2016

Outside powers need to act fast to protect Syrians because foreign military backing for the government is “changing the equation” of the war, Qatar’s foreign minister said on Wednesday. For 14 days, a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive has been underway to capture eastern Aleppo and crush the last urban stronghold of a revolt against Assad that began in 2011. The collapse of the latest Syria ceasefire has heightened the possibility that Toads & Thanis might arm the opposition with shoulder-fired missiles to defend themselves against Syrian and Russian warplanes, Pindo boxtops have said. Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, told a news conference in Singapore on Wednesday in answer to a question:

The ‘Friends of Syria’ have stopped and minimized their supply of weapons to rebels since February. On the other hand, the regime is continuing to receive supply from its allies, and that is what is changing the equation right now, and we hope that we can do something to protect them. We are very much concerned that the international community doesn’t have a Plan B for the Syrian conflict and the bombing and the shelling of the Syrians will continue. We need to act very fast to protect the Syrian people.

Frustration with Washington has intensified, raising the possibility that Turks, Toads & Thanis will no longer continue to follow the Pindo lead or will turn a blind eye to wealthy individuals looking to supply MANPADS to opposition groups. Western nations, mindful of how weapons spread from Libya after its Western-backed revolt in 2011 to unstable nations such as Mali, say arming rebels is risky because it is hard to tell militants from moderates in a disorganized array. Toads & Thanis say they know Islamist armed groups better and blame disorganization on a lack of outside support and training.

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