Russia's defense minister says Moscow and Washington are edging closer to an agreement that would help defuse the situation in the besieged Syrian city Aleppo.

Sergei Shoigu said in remarks carried Monday by Rossiya 24 television that "step by step, we are nearing an arrangement, I'm talking exclusively about Aleppo, that would allow us to find common ground and start fighting together for bringing peace to that territory, that long-suffering land so that people could return to their homes."

Aleppo was once Syria's commercial capital. Fighting for the city has become the focal point of the nation's civil war, now in its sixth year.

Russia and the U.S. have been discussing closer coordination in Syria, but they have been unable to reach agreement on what militant groups could be targeted.