US & Canada

Syria conflict: Assad 'to study' UN truce plan for Aleppo

Air strike in Aleppo's al-Shaar neighbourhood Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Aleppo has been hit by regular air raids by government forces

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he will study a UN proposal for "local ceasefires" in the war-ravaged northern city of Aleppo.

The UN's Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura had called for "freeze zones" to halt fighting and improve aid.

Mr Assad's office said it was "worth studying" to return security to Aleppo.

Syria's civil war has hit Aleppo hard. It is split into rebel and government-controlled areas and has seen regular air raids, killing many civilians.

More than 200,000 people have lost their lives in the civil war, which is in its fourth year.

'Freeze zones'

Mr de Mistura conveyed the ideas to Mr Assad during talks in the Syrian capital, Damascus, in the envoy's second visit to the country since his appointment in July.

Local ceasefires or "incremental freeze zones" have had some effect in other areas of Syria and Mr de Mistura earlier indicated Aleppo would be a good candidate.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Staffan de Mistura (left) met Mr Assad on his second trip to Syria since his UN appointment

The state news agency Sana quoted Mr Assad's office as saying that the president "considered the de Mistura initiative worth studying and trying to work on in order to attain its aims to return security to the city of Aleppo".

Aleppo has been racked by fighting since July 2012. For the past year it has witnessed almost daily government air force raids, with many civilian casualties.

Previous UN envoys have failed to negotiate a full ceasefire between the government and rebel groups.

The government is battling against an increasingly fragmented uprising.

As well as fighting the government, rebel groups such as the Nusra Front and Islamic State (IS) have also been fighting among themselves.

The conflict broadened this year with a US-led coalition launching air strikes in Syria, mainly targeting IS fighters.