DAMASCUS, Syria – The Latest on the civil war in Syria (all times local):
A senior Russian diplomat has shrugged off German Chancellor Angela Merkel's proposal to consider a no-fly zone over Syria, saying it can only be done with Damascus' consent.
Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said in remarks carried by the Interfax news agency Wednesday that any no-fly zone would need to be approved by the Syrian government and endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.
Gatilov's statement comes as Russian warplanes continue to strike militant positions around Aleppo in support of a Syrian army offensive. Russia has said that it will continue to strike extremists in Syria despite a planned truce.
Merkel said in an interview published Monday that it would be "helpful" if there were areas where no side would carry out aerial bombardments — "a kind of no-fly zone."
Trucks destined for besieged areas in Syria are being loaded with humanitarian aid, part of an agreement between the Syrian government and the U.N.'s Syria envoy.
The Syrian foreign ministry hit back Wednesday against envoy Staffan de Mistura, who said the deliveries were a "test" of the Syrian government's commitment. A statement said "we do not wait for anyone to remind us of our duties toward our people."
Still, the convoys appeared to be preparing to head to besieged areas Wednesday.
The U.N. said the government of President Bashar Assad had approved access to seven besieged areas across the country and that convoys would head out in the coming days.
The U.N. estimates that 18 Syrian communities are besieged, affecting around half a million people.