Sergei Shoigu, Russian Defence Minister, on Tuesday (1 November) said that western governments' inability to fight rebels in Syria has indefinitely delayed the resumption of peace talks.
Shoigu said that the rebels supported by western governments have been attacking civilians in areas of western Aleppo, despite the pause in air strikes by Russia and Syria. "As a result, the prospects for the start of a negotiation process and the return to peaceful life in Syria are postponed for an indefinite period," he said, according to Reuters.
A Kremlin spokesperson has said that the temporary pause in air raids cannot be extended if the rebels continue to attack. Last week, rebels launched an offensive against government-held areas in western Aleppo. This offensive comes more than a month after the Syrian army launched an operation to capture the insurgent-held areas of eastern Aleppo.
The United Nations on Tuesday said that all sides involved in Aleppo could be committing war crimes through indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas.
The Syrian regime and Russia said on 18 October that they have stopped all air raids over Aleppo. According to reports, this pause is fragile. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the continuation in the pause depended on how rebel groups behave in Aleppo.
Shoigu, who was speaking at a meeting of Russian military officials, railed against the rebels and their western backers and said they have wasted a chance for peace talks. He said, "It is time for our Western colleagues to determine who they are fighting against: terrorists or Russia. Maybe they have forgotten at whose hands innocent people died in Belgium, in France, in Egypt and elsewhere?"
He also expressed surprise over some European governments' refusal to allow Russian navy vessels to dock at Mediterranean ports. He added that the refusals did not hinder naval missions or prevent supplies reaching the Russian military in Syria.
Around 250,000 people are said to be trapped in eastern Aleppo with limited food supplies and medical care.