Russia on Thursday said it would press on with a bombing campaign in Syria, ignoring US threats, aiming at retrieving Aleppo from the rebels’ hands and ending the five-year crisis.
Assad regime, backed by Russia, said on Thursday it was starting a new wide offensive to recapture the rebel-held parts of Aleppo after a week-long ceasefire was declared officially over on Monday. the offensive includes a ground assault, artillery bombardment, and intensive airstrikes.
Since 19 September, more than 450 civilians have been killed and more than 1700 injured in rebel-held areas of Aleppo province, including the besieged eastern part of the city, Civil defense workers said.
Speaking at the UN Security Council, aid chief Stephen O’Brien said that Aleppo had now descended into a “merciless abyss of humanitarian catastrophe unlike any we have witnessed in Syria.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that despite “unconstructive” rhetoric from Washington, Moscow was still interested in seeing the tattered deal, meant to see the US and Russia eventually coordinate strikes on jihadists, work out.
He blamed the surge in violence on Washington’s failure to control rebel groups fighting in Aleppo and insisted that Syrian forces were battling “terrorists”.
“Moscow is continuing its air operation to support the anti-terrorist actions of the Syrian armed forces,” he said.
The US warned on Wednesday it would end talks on military co-operation unless Moscow stopped the bombing.
However Russia has complained the US has not done enough to separate the more moderate rebel groups, which it backs, from Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. Many of these groups have formed a strategic alliance with the more powerful Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and fight alongside it.
The Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shi’ite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, has been tightening its grip on rebel-held districts of Aleppo this year, and this summer achieved a long-held goal of fully encircling the area.
Recovering full control of the rebels’ last significant urban area would be the most important victory of the war so far for Assad, strengthening his control over Syria’s most populous and strategically important regions.
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.