US not stalling Syria talks with Russia on Aleppo: Kerry

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State John Kerry answers a question from a journalist prior to a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on December 6, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

US Secretary of State John Kerry has denied Moscow's charges that Washington has stalled planned talks on terrorists’ withdrawal from the Syrian city of Aleppo in order to get more time for them.

"I'm not aware of any specific refusal," Kerry said on Tuesday when asked about a Russian statement in Brussels where he attended a NATO foreign ministers meeting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier Tuesday said Washington cancelled the meeting to buy time for the militants to replenish their reserves, accusing the United States of bad faith in conducting negotiations.

"It looks like an attempt to buy time for the rebels to have a breather, take a pause and replenish their reserves," Lavrov said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during his meeting with Secretary General of the Council of Europe in Moscow on December 6, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Syrian government forces, who are in full control of western Aleppo, have been conducting operations to purge militants from the city’s east.

Backed by Russia’s airpower, Syrian army forces and their allies have dealt heavy blows to the foreign-sponsored militants over the past few weeks.

Syrian army helicopters on Sunday dropped leaflets on eastern Aleppo warning the militants to surrender while they still can.

The distributed leaflets called on the militants still remaining in eastern Aleppo to lay down the weapons and to permit the wounded and other civilians to exit the city.

A military source told reporters that the city will be fully purged of militants “in weeks.”  

Meanwhile, the Syrian military has announced that a large number of terrorists have been killed during operations which secured several neighborhoods in the city.

The conflict in Syria, which flared up in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

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