Europe

Russian official: Russia, US near deal on Aleppo cease-fire

In this photo, courtesy of Wissam Zarqa, a Syrian English teacher and vocal anti-government critic, men walk past damaged buildings and shops in the eastern Aleppo neighborhood of al-Mashhad, Syria, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Government troops and allied militiamen have been advancing swiftly into the once rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo enclave as defenses of the opposition fighters buckle. (Courtesy of Wissam Zarqa, via AP)

In this photo, courtesy of Wissam Zarqa, a Syrian English teacher and vocal anti-government critic, men walk past damaged buildings and shops in the eastern Aleppo neighborhood of al-Mashhad, Syria, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Government troops and allied militiamen have been advancing swiftly into the once rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo enclave as defenses of the opposition fighters buckle. (Courtesy of Wissam Zarqa, via AP)  (The Associated Press)

A Russian deputy foreign minister says Russia is close to reaching a deal with the United States on a cease-fire for the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo.

The Syrian government and its ally Russia have rejected previous calls for truce for the war-torn city, keeping up the military offensive that has squeezed and forced rebels to retreat in several areas.

Russian news agencies on Thursday quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying that Moscow and Washington are "close to reaching an understanding" on Aleppo but warned against "high expectations."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met on Wednesday in Germany but didn't release any statements.

Ryabkov said the Kerry-Lavrov talks were extensive but said a final deal has not been worked out yet.