john kerry.jpg

There has been progress on a plan to restore Syria's fraying ceasefire, but last details still need to be worked out among global powers, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday in Geneva.

"We are hopeful, but we are not yet there yet," he told reporters after meeting Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and UN Syria peace mediator Staffan de Mistura.

Kerry held the Syrian Army responsible for attacks on hospitals and civilians amid the escalating violence in Aleppo city but made clear that "both sides - the opposition and the regime - have contributed to this chaos."

Russia and Iran, which support Syria's armed forces, must now make sure that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad honours the truce, while the United States and other countries that back moderate rebels must do the same on the other side, Kerry said.

"We're trying to press this as fast as is possible," he said, expressing hope that the extent of progress would become clearer on Tuesday.

The US chief diplomat later spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by phone Monday, Russian news agency TASS reported.

"Both ministers continued discussing the prospects for settlement and urged the parties to the conflict to observe ceasefire," a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said, according to the report.

De Mistura said he would hold talks Tuesday in Russia.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was "profoundly concerned" about the renewed fighting, calling on all sides to "recommit immediately" to the ceasefire and protect civilians, Stephane Dujarric, Ban's spokesman, said in New York.

"The collapse of the cessation of hostilities will only bring more violence, death and destruction, while further weakening efforts to find a negotiated solution to this brutal war," Dujarric said.

The recent surge in Syria's violence has scuttled a ceasefire that was brokered by Washington and Moscow and that went into effect in most parts of the country in late February.

De Mistura ended his latest round of peace consultations last week in Geneva, after opposition delegates halted their participation to protest the increased fighting and the regime's blocking of humanitarian aid.

Kerry said several plans for reviving the truce are on the table, but some details have yet to be agreed and the proposals still "need to be signed off by some people."

Saudi Arabia's al-Jubeir declared that the world would not stand by as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his foreign allies massacre civilians in Aleppo.

"The world is not going to allow them to get away with this," al-Jubeir said. "Bashar al-Assad's days are numbered."

Al-Jubeir warned that the Syrian president would have to resign or face a violent ouster.

Saudi Arabia has been one of the most important backers of the Syrian opposition, including armed groups, and hosts the main opposition bloc that has taken part in the Geneva peace talks.

The Syria government said Sunday it was extending a ceasefire in and around Damascus, while activists reported heavy fighting betweeb the regime and rebels in Aleppo.

The temporary ceasefire excludes Aleppo, where rebels fired shells Sunday on regime-held areas and unidentified helicopters dropped barrel bombs on rebel-controlled areas.

Latest news

Greece's creditors want sweeping reforms before next bailout payment

Greece must make sweeping reforms to its labour market, pension system and collective bargaining agreements in order to receive its next vital bailout payment, the country's European creditors said Monday.

President wants to recall "politically appointed ambassadors", can't do it without gov't

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said that many politically appointed Croatian ambassadors were not carrying out state policies but that she could not replace them without the government to appoint career diplomats who would fight for Croatia's interests.

Izetbegovic hopes ICJ will confirm Serbia's responsibility for genocide

The Bosniak member of the tripartite presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegovic, on Monday rejected criticism stirred up by the announcement that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would be requested to review its judgement made after Bosnia sued Serbia for genocide.

British lawmakers locked in heated debate over Trump's state visit

Allowing US President Donald Trump to visit Britain would be akin to "pimping out the Queen," one British lawmaker said Monday during a heated debate in British parliament over two petitions concerning the US leader's future state visit.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's sharp-tongued ambassador to the UN, dies

Russia's long-time ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died in New York on Monday, following a career that spanned four decades and saw Russia emerge from the Soviet Union and experience many turbulent events in its relations with the West.

French police raid National Front over European Parliament payments

France's far-right National Front Monday said that investigators had searched its offices in relation to allegations that it misused European Parliament funds.

Unhappy Presidents' Day: Trump still manoeuvring after Sweden comment

Donald Trump used his first Presidents' Day in office to continue trying to talk his way out of comments implying a terrorist attack in Sweden that never happened.

Croatia supports Kosovo's territorial integrity - Grabar-Kitarovic

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Monday expressed the support to Kosovo's territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations during her talks with the visiting Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj.

Petrov rules out early parliamentary election

Parliament Speaker and Bridge party leader Bozo Petrov on Monday dismissed speculation about a reshuffle of the parliamentary majority, saying an early election was likelier, but that right now he did not see "such a scenario."

First local elections in 20 years to be held in Nepal on May 14

Nepal's government announced the dates for forthcoming local elections on Monday, nearly 20 years after polls were last held for municipalities and village councils in the country.

US Defence Secretary: We are not in Iraq to seize Iraqi oil

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday that the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, in reference to comments made by President Donald Trump last month.

Bryan Adams to play Zagreb

Canadian rock star Bryan Adams, who has sold more than 100 million albums in his 40-year-long career, will perform in Zagreb on November 9, according to his website and Facebook account.