Amid U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's call for no-fly zones in Syria, Russia prepares to send aircraft carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov in order to bolster its forces in the eastern Mediterranean off Syria.
The decision was announced on Wednesday by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. According to Interfax news agency, the aircraft carrier will join Russia's operations in Syria. The vessel will reportedly carry MIG-29KR and MIG-29KUBR jets, SU-33 fighters including KA-52K assault helicopters.
US Secretary of State John Kerry demanded at a UN Security Council meeting that Russia force Syria to ground its air force, which Washington blames for an attack on an aid convoy. Moscow and Damascus rejected the plea by Kerry to halt flights so that aid could be delivered and a ceasefire salvaged.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for a temporary halt to all military flights: "If the ceasefire is to stand any chance, the only path is a temporary, but complete ban of all military aircraft movement in Syria - for at least three days, better would be seven days," Steinmeier said.
In a tense televised exchange with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the United Nations on Wednesday, Kerry said stopping the bombardment was the last chance to find a way "out of the carnage."
Moscow and Washington announced the ceasefire two weeks ago with great fanfare. But the agreement, probably the final bid for a breakthrough on Syria before President Barack Obama leaves office next year, appears to have suffered the same fate as all other doomed peace efforts in a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians and made half the nation homeless.
The United Nations announced that it was resuming aid deliveries to opposition-held areas on Thursday following a 48-hour suspension to review security guarantees after Monday's attack on an aid convoy near Aleppo that killed around 20 people.
The truce foundered on Monday with an attack on an aid convoy, which Washington blamed on Russian warplanes. Russia denied involvement. Prior to that, tensions between Washington and Moscow spiked over a lethal air strike on Syrian government troops by the U.S.-led coalition against DAESH.
Meanwhile, dozens of raids hit the city's east as Assad forces advanced on opposition fighters in Aleppo's southwestern outskirts, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
At least 12 civilians, including two children, were killed, the highest single-day toll since the truce collapsed this week, the group said. In northwest Idlib province, 18 Syrians were killed during bombings on the town of Khan Sheikhun, according to the organization.
In the village of Khan Tuman, south of Aleppo city, two nurses and two drivers were killed in an attack on two ambulances, the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations said.