Russia says it is not currently considering a new truce in the Syrian city of Aleppo after a brief ceasefire ended over the weekend.
On Thursday Russia had announced an 11-hour ceasefire to allow civilians, anti-government fighters and injured people to leave opposition-controlled eastern Aleppo, promising them safe passage.
It later extended the ceasefire for another two days. The fighters, however, rejected the offer.
“The question of renewing the humanitarian pause is not relevant now,” Sergey Ryabkov, deputy foreign minister, told Interfax news agency on Monday, in the first official comment from Moscow on why it did not extend the ceasefire further.
In order to renew the ceasefire, “our opponents must ensure appropriate behaviour by the anti-government groups that in particular sabotaged the medical evacuation that was intended during the humanitarian pause.”
Ryabkov chided the US-led coalition, saying that it was criticising Syria and Russia instead of “really exerting influence on the opposition, the rebels”.
“Over the last three days, what was needed did not happen,” he said.
Ryabkov also said that he did not see the “conditions” for ministerial-level negotiations on Syria before the US elections on November 8, after a Lausanne meeting on October 15 that ended with no breakthrough.
“It’s almost no time until the US elections. To be honest, I don’t see the conditions for a ministerial meeting,” he said, insisting that Syria and Russia were fulfilling international agreements.
The Kremlin had previously hailed the humanitarian ceasefire as a “manifestation of goodwill” as it faced mounting criticism over its bombing of reastern Aleppo in support of a government offensive on the city.
But Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, also expressed concern at the small numbers of civilians and fighters leaving Aleppo, with only a handful reported to have crossed through a single passage.
Lavrov on Friday accused fighters from the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and influential Ahrar al-Sham group of obstructing the departure of civilians and combatants prepared to leave, saying they used “threats, blackmail and brute force”.
The Syrian opposition, on the other hand, said civilians did not leave the city because there were no guarantees that wounded evacuees would not be arrested by government forces and no provision for supplying humanitarian aid to those remaining in the enclave.
‘Running out of supplies’
Activists in Syria said on Sunday that people living in Aleppo were running out of supplies as government and Russian forces intensified their attacks.
They told Al Jazeera that strikes on Aleppo intensified a day after a Russian truce ended.
There were also reports of clashes between fighters and government forces on the city’s outskirts.
Fighters said they were preparing to launch a major offensive to break the siege.
The tussle between Syrian government forces and opposition fighters ran in parallel with renewed clashes further away from the city between Turkish-backed opposition forces and Syrian Kurdish forces, over territory formerly held by ISIL.
The activist-run Aleppo Media Centre said Turkish forces struck over 50 Kurdish positions on Sunday alone.
The US has backed both the Turkish-backed forces and the Syrian Kurdish forces in the area, though it has clarified that it does not support the Syrian Kurdish forces that have come under Turkish attack in the Aleppo countryside.
The Turkish military intervened in the Syrian war in August this year to clear the border area of ISIL fighters and US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces linked to Turkey’s own outlawed Kurdish insurgency.
The Turkish government considers both to be terrorist groups.
Between 250,000 and 300,000 civilians are thought to be trapped in eastern Aleppo, with dwindling food supplies and extremely limited medical care in underground hospitals that have been hit repeatedly by air strikes.