Battle for Syria’s Aleppo airport intensifies

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Kremlin and the League were trying to establish direct contact between the Syrian regime and the opposition. The Western-backed opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, long rejected any talks as long as Assad remains in power.

In a sharp turnaround, al-Khatib said earlier this month he would meet with members of the regime if that would help end the bloodshed. His comments, however, drew pointed criticism from several opposition figures who said al-Khatib spoke for himself, not the group.

On Friday, the Coalition announced after two days of meetings in Cairo that it would welcome U.S. and Russian mediation to negotiate a peace deal to end the country’s civil war but insisted it would not allow Assad or members of his security services to participate in the talks.

But the SNC then said in a statement posted on its Facebook page late Friday that its leaders would not travel to Washington or Moscow for any talks. It said the decision was taken to protest the international community’s “silence over crimes committed by the regime” against Syrian people in Aleppo and other cities across the country.

The Coalition also lashed out at Russia, saying it bears “special responsibility” because it supplies the regime with weapons.

The statement also said that the opposition leaders would boycott a meeting next month in Rome of the Friends of Syria, which includes the United States and its European allies.

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