AntiWar.com & The Telegraph – 2016-10-29 23:40:23
Russian jets resume heavy bombing of eastern Aleppo – rebels, monitor (Times of Oman, October 13, 2016)
Russia Tells UN It Will Pause Bombing of Eastern Aleppo
AMMAN and BERLIN (October 20, 2016) — Russia has told the UN it will stop bombing eastern Aleppo for 11 hours a day over four days, but the proposal was described as insufficient to bring about a wider deal to make militants leave the besieged city.
As a unilateral ceasefire was declared by the Syrian military in Aleppo on Thursday, the UN Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, said he welcomed the daily pauses to allow medical evacuations.
However, he said the ceasefire package required militants from the banned Jabhat Fateh al-Sham group to agree to leave and the Syrian government to guarantee that the local administration would remain in charge.
The UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said he hoped the first of “several hundred” sick and wounded people would be brought out on Friday to government-held western Aleppo or rebel-held Idlib, according to their choice.
Egeland said the UN wanted to extend the pauses until Monday and there was still no deal to bring food into the besieged zone, but the UN was working round the clock to get the necessary permits from the Syrian government.
Rebels in eastern Aleppo said the temporary ceasefire was part of a psychological campaign to make them surrender.
State media earlier said the Syrian army had opened exit corridors in two designated areas in the Bustan al-Qasr quarter and near the Castello Road in northern Aleppo, where waiting green buses were shown on state television.
Intensified Russian and Syrian bombing of rebel-held areas of Aleppo has destroyed scores of hospitals, bakeries and water pumping stations in an offensive that has killed hundreds of civilians over the past few weeks.
On Wednesday night, the leaders of France and Germany hit out at Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, over Moscow’s bombardment of Aleppo, and refused to rule out imposing sanctions on Russia.
Speaking after a meeting with Putin and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Berlin, the French president, FranÃ§ois Hollande, said: “What is happening in Aleppo is a war crime. One of the first demands is that the bombardments by the regime and its [Russian] backers must end.”
Merkel condemned the air raids on Syria’s second city as “inhumane and cruel”.
Both leaders warned that they could not exclude imposing sanctions on Russia, hours ahead of an EU summit in which Moscow’s role in Syria is set to be discussed.
“Everything that can constitute a threat can be useful,” Hollande said at a press conference. Merkel said: “We cannot remove this option.”
Syrian rebels say they are preparing a large-scale offensive to break the siege of Aleppo and claim that the Russian air force has failed, despite a relentless bombing campaign. They say the army and its Iranian-backed militias are struggling to make headway after initial progress on the outskirts of the city, which allowed the army to tighten its grip on Aleppo.
Agence France-Presse and Reuters contributed to this report.
Putin Rejects Russian Army’s Calls to Resume Aleppo Airstrikes
Jason Ditz /AntiWar.com
(October 28, 2016) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially rejected a request from his nation’s Defense Ministry to endorse a resumption of Russian airstrikes against the Syrian city of Aleppo, after 10 straight days of no Russian airstrikes being conducted.
Russia launched a brief ceasefire in Aleppo last week, and extended it for four days. Even after it officially expired, they have not resumed strikes against the city, with officials saying they want to convince Western nations to separate the moderate rebel factions within East Aleppo from the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.
So far that’s not been working so well, as indeed separating the two was the primary goal of a weeklong ceasefire a month ago, and a public US call to separate never amounted to anything. After that, the idea appears to have been given up on by the US, and Russia has also sought Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s influence on the more moderate factions.
As the rebel factions are launching a new offensive trying to brief the Aleppo siege, the Russian defense ministry has gone to the unusual step of publicly announcing their request to Putin, and Putin’s very public rejection may suggest there is some debate within the Russian leadership on how to proceed.
Putin Believes Resumption of Aleppo Air Strikes Unnecessary for Now
Maria Tsvetkova / Reuters
MOSCOW (October 28, 2016) — Russia’s President Vladimir Putin believes that the resumption of air strikes in Syria’s Aleppo is unnecessary for now, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.
Putin rejects resuming the strikes in order to give the United States time to separate terrorist groups from the moderate opposition and to allow militants and civilians to leave Aleppo, Peskov said.
However, Russia reserves the right to use all of its means and force to support Syrian army, he added.
It’s not just Russia, Syria, and the US bombing Aleppo. Wester-backed ‘rebels’ also are indiscriminately bombing the city. (October 12, 2016)
‘Incandescent with Rage’ British UN Official Attacks ‘Selfish, Inhuman’ Russia in Fiery Security Council Meeting
Harriet Alexander / The Telegraph
NEW YORK (October 27, 2016) — The British head of the UN’s humanitarian office has launched a searing attack on Russia and Syria for the continued bombardment of Aleppo, telling the Security Council he was “incandescent with rage” about the diplomatic stalemate, and sparking one of the most stormy and confrontational UN meetings of recent times.
Stephen O’Brien, head of the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told the 15-member body that “the buck stops with you” — drawing parallels with Srebrenica, Cambodia and Rwanda.
“Month after month, worse and worse, and nothing is actually happening to stop the war, stop the suffering,” he said. And he despaired at the Russian vetoing of a succession of resolutions, noting how “selfish, inhuman interests have trumped the moral and humanitarian imperative.”
Blankets are in such short supply that people are huddling in body bags to keep warm, he said. In eastern Aleppo 100,000 children cower in basements.
Since his last update a month ago, he said, 400 people have died in the bombings, and six tons of medical equipment have been prevented from entering the city.
He added: “What happened to ‘never again’? What happened to our commitment to protect the most vulnerable, those who face mass atrocities? It is in your hands today to take the right path, and avert this looming irreversible tragedy of our time.”
He said that leaflets are being dropped on eastern Aleppo by Syrian and Russian aircraft, warning residents:
“This is your last hope. Save yourselves. If you do not leave these areas urgently, you will be annihilated. You know that everyone has given up on you. They left you alone to face your doom and nobody will give you any help.”
And Mr. O’Brien, who used the meeting to catalogue the misery and wretchedness of the thousands of trapped civilians, said Syria and Russia was determined to wipe out the population of Aleppo.
“It is clear that the aircraft which drop the bombs, the generals who give the orders, and the politicians who have designed the strategy intend to make good on that horrific promise.”
The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, reacted with fury to Mr. O’Brien’s statement, accusing him of arrogance and dishonesty. His comments, he said, were fabrication and should be “put in a novel.”
“If we needed to be preached to, we would go to a church,” he said. But the rest of the Security Council turned on Mr. Churkin.
Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, supported Mr. O’Brien, while the Ukrainian ambassador said Mr. Churkin was “living in a parallel universe.”
“Does Russia believe that all the children who are being killed in eastern Aleppo are themselves al-Qaeda members?” asked Ms. Power, who said she had not intended to speak, but was so enraged at Mr. Churkin’s remarks that she felt she had to.
“Is that what happens — you come out of the womb and you’re an al-Qaeda member right from the beginning? Of course Russia can’t condemn the shelling and the bombardment — systematic aerial bombardment — of eastern Aleppo, because Russia’s carrying out the systematic bombardment of eastern Aleppo. Because Russia has brought to bear in the conflict weapons that even a brutal Syrian regime had never used before.”
Matthew Rycroft, the British ambassador, said that Russia’s position was an “absurd, surreal, fantasy theatre”.
He added: “The United Kingdom will support any effort to stop the bombing and any draft resolution that is clear enough that step one has got to be an end to the bombing.”
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