- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A senior Russian diplomat has shrugged off German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s proposal to consider a no-fly zone over Syria, saying it can only be done with Damascus’ consent.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said in remarks carried by the Interfax news agency Wednesday that any no-fly zone would need to be approved by the Syrian government and endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.

Gatilov’s statement comes as Russian warplanes continue to strike militant positions around Aleppo in support of a Syrian army offensive. Russia has said that it will continue to strike extremists in Syria despite a planned truce.

Merkel said in an interview published Monday that it would be “helpful” if there were areas where no side would carry out aerial bombardments — “a kind of no-fly zone.”

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