Syria ceasefire talks postponed as wrangling drags on

Friday 19/02/2016
Crowded skies

MOSCOW - Russia said UN-led talks planned for Saturday between major international players on establishing a ceasefire in Syria had been postponed, as wrangling dragged on between the various sides.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian news agencies that the meeting in Geneva had been put back to an unspecified later date as "consultations" between key nations continued.
Military and diplomatic officials from Russia and the United States held talks Friday to try to hammer out the details of a possible ceasefire, as a hoped for halt in hostilities on the ground failed to materialise.
That sit down was supposed to pave the way for a broader meeting after the 17 key international players involved in negotiations to end the Syrian conflict agreed on January 12 that a ceasefire should come into force within a week.
The elusive truce was meant to begin Friday, but failed to do so as fighting raged in Syria with Kurdish-led forces backed by US-led air power seizing a key town from the Islamic State group.
Russia is currently flying a bombing campaign in Syria to back up forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, while the US is leading a coalition targeting ISIS jihadists.
The Russian defence ministry said Saturday that the country has sent several fighter planes including fourth-generation jets and a transport helicopter to reinforce its air base in Armenia near the border with Turkey.
Four fourth-generation Mikoyan MiG-29 jets as well as a number of modernised MiG-29S bombers and a Mil Mi-8MT helicopter have been despatched to the base, a statement said.
Russia's base at Erebuni airport just outside the capital Yerevan already has nine fourth-generation MiG-29 planes designed to carry a payload of up to 4,000 kilograms of weapons and with larger fuel tanks, allowing them to spend more time on missions.
Russia also has a base for ground troops at Gyumri, some 55 miles (90 kilometres) from the capital of the ex-Soviet republic.
Yerevan is around 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Armenia's border with Turkey, which has been closed since 1993 due to the countries' long-running feud.
Turkey refuses to recognise the genocide of Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915 and backs Azerbaijan in its territorial dispute with Armenia over Nagorny-Karabakh.

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