MOSCOW: Russia has called for a 72-hour regime of silence in Eastern Ghouta and Daraya from Tuesday amid deadlocked efforts to turn a cessation of hostilities into a lasting peace in the war-torn country.

“In order to stabilise the situation the Russian reconciliation centre is calling for a 72-hour regime of silence in Eastern Ghouta and Daraya” from Tuesday, the head of the Russian coordination centre in Syria, Sergei Kuralenko, was quoted as saying by the defence ministry late Monday.

Kuralenko reiterated Moscow's call for 'moderate rebels' to withdraw from areas controlled by the Al-Nusra Front and break ranks with the militants, saying Russia would keep targeting the militants.

Citing data from Russian monitors and Syrian intelligence, Kuralenko said that Al-Nusra Front militants and rebels in Eastern Ghouta and suburbs of Damascus had regrouped and re-armed and were now preparing for an offensive.

“These conclusions and estimates have been confirmed by non-stop fire on Syrian armed forces in Eastern Ghouta and living quarters in Damascus, “Kuralenko was quoted as saying.

In the vicinity of Aleppo, Al-Nusra Front leaders were putting together a major attack force numbering some 6,000 fighters in order to blockade government forces in the city, among other goals, he said.

The call from Russia came as Washington on Monday urged Moscow to press Syria to stop bombing opposition forces and civilians in Aleppo and the Damascus suburb.

The United States and Russia are co-partners in the so-called Vienna diplomatic process of the International Support Group for Syria, which met last week in the Austrian capital but made no notable progress.

The 20 world and regional powers taking part in the process have so far failed to turn a fragile cessation of hostilities in Syria, in effect since February 27, into a durable truce between the government and militant groups.

Last week Moscow proposed that Russia and the United States launch joint air strikes against Al-Nusra Front militants in Syria but Washington rejected the proposal.

Published on DAWN on 24-May-2016