Air raids, shelling in Syria's Aleppo kill 19

An inquiry by the United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) seen by Reuters last month said the Syrian army had been responsible for two chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015.

Meanwhile, in the ravaged city of Aleppo, government forces and their allies captured new ground on the city's edge, tightening the siege on rebel-held parts of the city.

An Iraqi Shia militia fighting in Syria announced yesterday that its forces were being inspected on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Aleppo by Iranian Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) elite Quds Force.

Insurgents said they were planning a counter-offensive.

The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, said helicopters dropped crude barrel bombs over the area on Friday.

However, observers said the Syrian military's campaign also aims to recapture areas in the northern and southern countryside of Aleppo in the face of Turkey's perceived attempts to establish a safe zone in northern Syria.

Washington has said indiscriminate bombing of civilians by the Syrian army would have to end under an enforceable deal. The LCC said five were wounded and rescuers continued to sift through the rubble for survivors.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called on all sides to respect the deal, which was finally reached after several failed attempts over recent weeks.

"This all creates the necessary conditions for resumption of the political process, which has been stalling for a long time", Lavrov said.

Five years after the multi-sided war began, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and 11 million - half of Syria's pre-war population - displaced.

US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had previously held "productive" talks about achieving peace in Syria at the G20 Summit, but they ended without agreement.

"This requires halting all attacks, including aerial bombardments, and any attempts to gain additional territory at the expense of the parties to the cessation", he said.

  • Audrey Hill