Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected a request for the resumption of airstrikes in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo
so that humanitarian efforts can continue in the northwestern city and the US can separate the so-called “moderate” opposition forces from other terrorists there.
“The Russian president considers it inappropriate at the present time to resume airstrikes in Aleppo,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov at a press conference in Moscow on Friday.
“In case of extreme necessity to prevent provocative actions on the part of terrorist groups, the Russian side reserves the right to use all means at its disposal to provide an appropriate level of support to the Syrian armed forces,” he added.
Peskov went on to say that the Russian president believes that the humanitarian pause should continue “to allow the withdrawal of the wounded and the militants who wish to leave the city.”
The Kremlin spokesman added that the pause in airstrikes was also meant to allow the “American partners to fulfill the obligations to separate the so-called ‘moderate’ opposition and the terrorists, which they took upon themselves.”
Peskov’s comments came hours after Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoi announced that he had asked the Russian leader to grant the military
permission to resume airstrikes against “illegal armed groups” operating in the militant-held areas in eastern Aleppo, arguing that they had resumed their military
activities against Syrian troops.
Rudskoi added that earlier on Friday, three groups of militants, taking advantage of “the moratorium of Russian and Syrian combat flights,” launched an attack to break into the eastern areas of the city with the support of 20 tanks,15 armored personnel carriers (APC), and heavy artillery and rocket fire.
The offensive, however, was thwarted, with terrorists losing six tanks and five APCs, he further said, adding that during the previous three days, the terrorists had shelled western Aleppo on 62 occasions, killing at least 43 people and injuring 76 others.
Jaish al-Fatah Militants prepare to fire a home-made mortar during an assault on Syrian government forces in western Aleppo, Syria, on October 28, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, has been divided between government forces in the west and the militants in the east since 2012. In an attempt to free the people trapped in the city, the Syrian army, backed by Russian fighter jets, began a major offensive on September 22 to end the militants’ reign of terror in the east.
suspended its attacks in Aleppo several days ago after the Syrian troops completed the siege of the city’s eastern part. According to Russia
’s Defense Ministry, the Syrian and Russian warplanes have not bombed Aleppo for the past 10 days to allow civilians and militants to leave the city via humanitarian corridors.
Earlier on Friday, about two dozen civilians were killed and some 100 others injured as foreign-backed militants shelled western Aleppo as part of a massive offensive to try to break the Syrian government’s siege over the city.
Among the dead were six children who were killed in a terrorist rocket attack on a school in the government-held part of the city.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, saying “such attacks, if deliberate, may amount to war crimes.”
“Those responsible for these acts must be brought to justice,” said a statement issued by his spokesman.