The Latest: Kerry to meet with ‘regional partners’ on Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the developments in the Syrian civil war (all times local):

9 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will discuss ways to resolve the Syria crisis at a meeting with counterparts from “key regional partners” in Lausanne, Switzerland on Saturday.

The State Department’s spokesman said in a statement Wednesday that Kerry would discuss a “multilateral approach” to ending the crisis, “including a sustained cessation of violence and the resumption of humanitarian aid deliveries.”

It did not specify which regional partners would take part. Kerry was expected in Lausanne after traveling to Rwanda, and would later travel to London.

Russia had earlier said that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would meet with Kerry in Lausanne. It would be the first meeting between the two since Washington cut off bilateral contact with Russia on Syria following the collapse of a cease-fire last month.

8:15 p.m.

The U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has been invited to attend a meeting of high-level diplomats in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Saturday.

De Mistura’s spokeswoman, Jessy Chahine, said the envoy had been invited, but declined to comment further.

Earlier Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Lausanne on Saturday to discuss efforts to reach a peace deal in Syria.

Violence has flared in Syria, particularly in and around the northern city of Aleppo, since a U.S. and Russian-brokered cease-fire collapsed last month. Washington and Moscow have traded blame for the failure of the truce.


6:05 p.m.

Russia says that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Switzerland on Saturday to discuss efforts to find a peace deal in Syria.

The encounter will be the first face-to-face contact between the two men since Washington broke off bilateral diplomatic contact with Moscow over the Syrian war earlier this month. A brief cease-fire in Syria that was brokered by Russia and the United States collapsed last month.

Lavrov and Kerry will meet in the Swiss city of Lausanne, according to a Wednesday statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.


4:45 p.m.

Activists say an airstrike on the biggest market in the rebel-held side of Syria’s Aleppo has killed at least 15 people.

Wednesday’s strike came the day after at least 41 people, including five children, were killed in a series of airstrikes across besieged, rebel-held parts of the city, which has been the epicenter of Syria’s civil war for months.

Overstretched rescuers were still digging through the rubble from the strikes the day before when they were called to the scene of the market bombing, which took place in the early afternoon.

The Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer group of first responders, says at least 15 people, including women and children, were killed in the market bombing. The activist-run Aleppo Media Center reported a similar toll.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said seven people were killed, but that the toll was likely to rise as people were buried in rubble.


4:30 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of ramming through a Syria resolution into the U.N. Security Council in order to “whip up an anti-Russian hysteria.”

Over the weekend, Russia blocked the U.N. Security Council resolution proposed by France and Spain on ending the hostilities in the war-torn country, blaming Paris for the refusal to discuss a compromise version. Russia’s veto prompted French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to call on the International Criminal Court to investigate Russia for possible war crimes in Syria.

Speaking at an investment conference in Moscow Putin said the Russian diplomats had made it clear they wanted the resolution to be amended and that the only reason for France to push it through was “to exacerbate the situation and whip up an anti-Russia hysteria.”


1:55 p.m.

Pope Francis is calling for an urgent cease-fire in Syria to evacuate civilians from what he called an “inhuman” assault on the besieged rebel-held part of the city of Aleppo.

Francis says he is particularly concerned about children “trapped under the cruel bombardments,” which on Tuesday left at least 25 people dead, five of them children.

During his general audience on Wednesday, Francis says it’s “with a sense of urgency that I renew my appeal: I’m begging with all my strength for those responsible to undertake an immediate cease-fire that is respected at least to give time to evacuate civilians.”

The U.N. Security Council is deadlocked over how to respond to the Aleppo crisis, with Russia and the U.S. failing to agree on renewing a cease-fire. No assistance has entered Aleppo since July.


10 a.m.

Syrian activists and rescue workers say a day of intensive bombing of the besieged rebel-held parts of the city of Aleppo has left at least 25 people dead, including five children.

Rescue workers say they pulled at least one boy alive from under the rubble late on Tuesday night.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday that the bombings the previous day killed 25 people. The Syrian Civil Defense, a team of first responders, and activist media platform Aleppo Media Center put the death toll at 41.

Ibrahim al-Haj, of the Civil Defense, says teams are continuing to search for survivors and bodies under a collapsed building in the al-Fardous neighborhood. He says the boy’s mother is in critical condition.

Al-Haj says a bomb hit while rescuers were on the scene, injuring several of them.

The bombings resumed on Wednesday.

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