Clashes rage in Syria's rebel bastions of Aleppo

Associated Press
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In this Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 photo, Free Syrian Army soldiers are seen during clashes with government forces at the south-west district of Salah al-Din in Aleppo, Syria. Syrian troops launched a ground assault Wednesday on the besieged northern city of Aleppo, but activists said rebels forces were fighting back in a battle for the country's largest city that has raged for more than two weeks. (AP Photo/Alberto Prieto)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's foreign ministry says Moscow will attend talks on the Syrian crisis organized by Iran.

The ministry says that Russia will be represented by its ambassador in Tehran if the talks set for Thursday take place. It said in a statement late Wednesday that the meeting was called at short notice, leaving little time to prepare.

Russia in the past has urged the West to allow Tehran to take part in international discussions on how to settle the crisis, arguing that the Islamic republic could play an important role.

Russia has been the main protector and ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, shielding it from the United Nations sanctions over its brutal crackdown on an uprising that evolved into a full-blown civil war.