09:48 Oct. 15, 2016
'I don't know that I would expect any breakthroughs', a US rep said
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will return to Syria talks on Saturday, three weeks after the failure of their painstakingly drafted ceasefire that many saw as the last hope for peace this year.
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Kerry has pointedly avoided new bilateral negotiations with Lavrov, and his invitation to the Turkish, Saudi, Qatari and Iranian foreign ministers to join them for talks in the Swiss lakeside town of Lausanne will broaden the discussion to include the most powerful backers of Syria's government and rebels.
'I don't know that I would expect any breakthroughs. I would just say that we're working to get this multilateral effort and approach to Syria up and running,' US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington.
Pressure is rising for a halt to a ferocious, three-week-old Syrian government offensive to capture the rebel-held eastern zone of the city of Aleppo, where the United Nations says 275,000 civilians still live and 8,000 rebels are holding out against Syrian, Russian and Iranian-backed forces.
Western powers have accused Russia and Syria of committing atrocities by bombing hospitals, killing civilians and preventing medical evacuations, as well as targeting an aid convoy with the loss of around 20 lives.