The UN envoy to Syria has urged the US and Russia to urgently intervene "at the highest level" to salvage talks. Speaking after briefing the UN Security Council on the faltering peace process, Staffan de Mistura said that a truce agreed in February was "barely alive". Violence in Syria has intensified in recent days, despite the ceasefire. At least 20 civilians were reportedly killed on Wednesday in government strikes on a hospital and nearby residential building in eastern Aleppo. Civil defence volunteers, known as the White Helmets, told French news agency AFP that the dead included children and the only paediatrician left in rebel-held areas of the city.
"Regarding the (Syrian) government, we are counting very much on Russia, on Iran, on anyone who has got major influence, and on the government of Syria to be ready finally to initiate when they are invited to Geneva, a genuine, direct negotiation with whatever (opposition) platform comes out," he told reporters.