Putin says not right time to resume Aleppo strikes

Rebel fighters from 'the First Regiment', part of the Free Syrian Army, jump through a fire loop as they participate in a military training in the western countryside of Aleppo. (Reuters)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin did not think it was time to resume air strikes on Aleppo after the defense ministry requested that a moratorium on bombing be lifted, the Kremlin said on Friday.

“The Russian president considers it inappropriate at the current moment to resume strikes on Aleppo,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that Putin thought it was necessary to “continue the humanitarian pause” in the war-ravaged city.

The announcement came shortly after the defense ministry said it had asked Putin to allow the Russian air force to resume air strikes in Aleppo after a 10-day halt in bombing.

It also followed the launch by Syrian rebels of an assault on government forces to break a months-long siege of rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

Peskov stressed that in spite of the halt in bombing in Aleppo, Russia would deploy all its means to support the Syrian army if necessary.

“The Russian side retains the right in case of extreme necessity to use all the troops and facilities it has to carry out support of the Syrian armed forces at the necessary level,” he said.

Russia’s defense ministry has said that Syrian and Russian warplanes have not bombed Aleppo for the past ten days to allow civilians and rebels wishing to leave the city to do so via humanitarian corridors.

The halt in bombing was initially declared ahead of a short ceasefire that ended at the weekend, with Moscow on Monday ruling out a truce extension for the time being.

The West has accused Moscow of committing possible war crimes in Aleppo through indiscriminate bombing to support Syrian government efforts to retake total control over the city.

Syrian rebels

Meanwhile, Factions belonging to the Free Syrian Army and Jaish al-Fatah confirmed they began operations to recapture parts of East Aleppo from the siege imposed by regime forces.

The rebels said they began the operations on Friday by launching rocket and artillery fire on sites controlled by regime forces and militias.

Rebels also said they launched Grad missiles targeting the al-Nayrab military air base in east Aleppo and military outposts in the western regions of the city.

Attack on school

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday condemned an attack on a school in government-held west Aleppo that killed a number of Syrian children.

“Such attacks, if deliberate, may amount to war crimes,” Ban said in a statement.

Syrian state media reported that rebel rocket fire had hit a school in west Aleppo. The city has been divided since mid-2012, when rebels seized its eastern half.

“Three children were killed and 14 students were injured in a terrorist rocket attack on the national school in the Shahba neighborhood of Aleppo,” state news agency SANA reported from Damascus.

The UN chief renewed his call to the Security Council to ask the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of war crimes in Syria.

“Those responsible for these acts must be brought to justice,” he said.

(With AFP)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49