Moscow offers 'safe withdrawal' for armed rebels in Aleppo

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The ensuing surge in fighting has accompanied a large-scale government offensive, backed by Russian air power, to capture the opposition-held half of battered Aleppo.

By contrast, Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton could spark World War Three, said Zhirinovsky, who received a top state award from Putin after his pro-Kremlin Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) came third in Russia's parliamentary election last month. "We are ready to ensure the safe withdrawal of armed rebels, the unimpeded passage of civilians to and from eastern Aleppo as well as the delivery of aid there", Russian Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy said on television.

Meanwhile, US officials announced that President Barack Obama would meet senior policy advisors to consider military and other options in Syria.

Aleppo's unabating violence has given additional urgency to the upcoming meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on efforts to find a peace deal in Syria in Switzerland on Saturday.

The French foreign ministry said Ayrault had stressed "the urgency to break the current impasse. and achieve a halt in the bombing in Aleppo".

Moscow called on Thursday on regional states not to supply portable anti-aircraft missiles to Syrian rebel groups, warning that any unfriendly actions against Russian forces would draw an appropriate response.

Air strikes killed 13 people on Thursday, when warplanes hit several rebel-held districts, including al-Kalaseh, Bustan al-Qasr and al-Sakhour, civil defense official Ibrahim Abu al-Laith told Reuters from Aleppo.

Several major global efforts have failed to secure a political solution to the war, which has killed more than 300,000 people.

The death toll this week according to rescue workers topped 154, although the figures could not be independently verified.

The latest cease-fire failed after six days when Russian government officials claimed rebels and coalition forces were not abiding by it. Rebels and coalition forces similarly accused Russia and the Syrian regime of breaking the truce.

Western governments have poured condemnation on Russian support for the strikes on east Aleppo, saying the indiscriminate shelling of the built up area - which has hit hospitals, rescue centres, and a bakery - amounts to a war crime. Some 250,000 civilians in the rebel-held eastern part of the city have been cut off for months without access to food, fuel, fresh water, medicines or electricity. The U.N. says over 100 children have been killed in the campaign, which has also included a limited ground offensive.

In a government-held area of western Aleppo, at least four children were killed and 10 wounded on Thursday when shells landed near a school, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Syria has been in a state of civil war for five years. The overriding goal of Tehran and Moscow appears to be to help the Assad government retake all of Aleppo just as the Obama administration prepares to leave office in order to put themselves in the strongest possible position at any future peace talks convened by the next USA president.