Syrian regime rolls back rebel gains in Aleppo
Russia also said on Saturday it will need UN guarantee for new Aleppo humanitarian pauses
Syrian government forces have recaptured all of the areas taken by rebel fighters in a recent assault intended to break the regime siege on eastern Aleppo, a monitor said Saturday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army had recaptured key areas including the western district of Dahiyet al-Assad and the village of Minyan outside the city.
The reversals undo all of the progress made during a recent push by opposition fighters, including former al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham front, as they tried to end a government siege on eastern Aleppo city.
Also on Saturday, Russian Defense Ministry announced that one of their warship flotilla has arrived near a Syrian coast.
Government forces surrounded rebel-held east Aleppo in July, severing the last supply line into opposition neighborhoods and imposing a blockade that has led to food and fuel shortages.
Rebels have tried several times to break the siege, succeeding briefly in August, but no aid has entered the east since July.
The monitor said over 450 fighters and civilians had been killed since the rebels began their latest bid to break the siege on Oct. 28.
The dead include 215 Syrian and foreign opposition fighters, including some who carried out suicide bomb attacks, and 143 regime forces.
Nearly 100 civilians were also killed in the fighting, the majority of them in government-held west Aleppo, where 29 children were among those killed in waves of rebel rocket fire.
Once Syria’s economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been ravaged by the war that began with anti-government protests in March 2011.
The city has been divided since mid-2012, and in September, the government announced an operation to recapture all of Aleppo.
The government assault, backed by Russian warplanes, has killed hundreds of people in east Aleppo and damaged and destroyed infrastructure including hospitals.
More than 300,000 people have been killed in Syria’s five-year war.
Russia needs UN guarantee on Aleppo
Meanwhile, The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday it would need the UN mission in Syria to formally confirm its ability to deliver aid to eastern Aleppo before Moscow agreed to any new humanitarian pauses in fighting in the shattered Syrian city.
Moscow says previous temporary ceasefires on the ground, called to allow aid deliveries and the evacuation of the wounded and civilians, have come to nothing because rebels have opened fire on anyone trying to come in or out.
Rebels contest that and say it is the Syrian army and its allies who have sabotaged the humanitarian pauses.
“The Russian Defense Ministry will be ready to consider introducing new ‘humanitarian pauses’ at any time as soon as representatives of the UN mission in Syria officially confirm their readiness and possibility to deliver humanitarian aid to eastern Aleppo and to evacuate wounded and sick civilians,” Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
The occasional humanitarian pauses on the ground are distinct from a unilateral moratorium on Russian air strikes on rebel targets inside Aleppo, which remains in place for now.
(With AFP, Reuters)