RT.com, Oct 28, 2016 (and below: ‘Syrian rebels in Aleppo unleash car bombs, mortar attacks in new offensive’ – CNN report)
Jihadist militants appear to have launched a major offensive from east Aleppo, Syria, an RT crew reports from the scene. Residential areas are under heavy shelling, with at least six people confirmed killed and over 70 injured.
Alleged Al-Nusra Front fighters are trying to break through the blockade of the city, RT’s Murad Gazdiev reported from Aleppo.
He said at least six civilians were confirmed killed from the shelling since Friday morning, including a two-year-old boy. Dozens were injured in the attacks. The shelling targeted the Bustan al-Qasr area of western Aleppo.
The Syrian military says it is in control of the situation and has prevented the militants from breaking through or capturing any territory.
The offensive comes after Russia and Syria, blamed by the U.S. and its allies of causing civilian casualties by striking militant positions in east Aleppo, stopped sorties over the divided city. The pause in air action has lasted a full 10 days.
A spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham, a large Islamist rebel group, said in a social media message that the factions involved in the attack include the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Jaish al-Fatah, an alliance of Islamist factions, Reuters reported, citing the Levant Front – a group fighting under the umbrella of the FSA.
There are numerous militant groups in east Aleppo, all opposing government forces and their allies. The US says the jihadists play a minor role in the region and accuses Russia of targeting so-called moderate rebels rather than terrorists.
Russia says Al-Nusra Front – an Al-Qaeda offshoot – actually dominates east Aleppo, with most other armed groups answering to it. The continued failure of the U.S. to separate moderate rebels from jihadists as promised by Washington attests to that, Moscow believes.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on the problem on Friday after meeting his Syrian and Iranian counterparts in Moscow.
“Our agreements with the Americans put the separation of the moderate opposition from the terrorists as a priority. There has been no progress in this field so far and frankly speaking no progress can be expected anytime soon,” he said.
“We think that terrorists have to be destroyed. And while our colleagues are only speaking about fighting terrorism, we are fully ready to put it into practice.”
Syrian rebels in Aleppo unleash car bombs, mortar attacks in new offensive
By Ivan Watson and Mohammad Eyad Kourdi, CNN, Oct 28, 2016
Istanbul, Turkey – Rebel fighters launched a new offensive in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Friday, unleashing a series of deadly car bombings and mortar attacks on government-held positions aimed at breaking the siege of rebel-controlled eastern neighborhoods. Opposition social media showed videos of rebel tanks, armored personnel carriers, grad rockets and artillery firing from the southwest of the city, in an apparent attempt to break through Syrian government offenses from the outside of Aleppo.
“The whole city can hear the clashes, it is very huge,” a resident in a government-controlled part of the city told CNN on condition of anonymity. At least 15 people were killed and more than 100 others were wounded when hundreds of mortar rounds showered down on several residential neighborhoods in regime-held areas of western Aleppo, the UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said in a statement.
Clashes are continuing in several areas on the outskirts of western Aleppo between Syrian forces and various rebel groups, including Jabhet Fateh al-Sham, according to SOHR. “It is more than big,” said Ismail Abdullah, a rescue worker in Aleppo’s rebel held east, when asked about the fighting.
Russia’s military has asked President Vladimir Putin for permission to resume airstrikes on the eastern part of the city after a lull in fighting last week, Russia’s state news agency TASS reported Friday.
Jabhet Fateh al-Sham fighters carried out three suicide car bombings targeting regime forces in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo, according to the SOHR, which said there were many killed and wounded from the bombings but could not provide an exact number yet.
Jabhet Fateh al-Sham — formerly al-Nusra Front — confirmed the offensive had begun on their Telegram channel. On Twitter, the al-Sham Legion rebel group announced that shelling on government areas was underway.
The rebel attack comes after Syrian government and allied Russian forces declared a unilateral ceasefire last week, which brought several days of relative calm after weeks of intense aerial bombardment. But the ceasefire effectively ended Sunday when warplanes resumed bombing the city, according to residents.
The United Nations blames both sides in the conflict for failing to take advantage of ceasefire to allow the evacuation of some of the hundreds of thousands of civilians believed to be trapped in eastern Aleppo.
The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said on Wednesday that at least 400 people had been killed by Russian and Syrian government aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo in less than a month. Stephen O’Brien also told the UN Security Council that throughout October, rebel mortar strikes killed at least 100 people, including 17 women and 22 children.
Putin rejects Russian military request to resume airstrikes in east Aleppo, RT.com, Oct 28, 2016
President Vladimir Putin has denied the Russian military’s request to order a resumption of airstrikes in eastern Aleppo, his press secretary said. The military had asked permission to resume airstrikes due to the increased activity of militants. “The Russian president considers it inappropriate at the present time to resume airstrikes in Aleppo,” Dmitry Peskov told the press.
However, Peskov added that “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.”
Russia will make a decision on further action in accordance with the events on the ground in Aleppo, the spokesman added…