Ac­tivists re­port wave of at­tacks on Aleppo

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

Rus­sia an­nounced a ma­jor air of­fen­sive in Syria yes­ter­day as Syr­ian op­po­si­tion ac­tivists re­ported the first airstrikes in three weeks in the be­sieged, rebel-held part of the north­ern city of Aleppo.

The of­fen­sive be­gan hours after Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump dis­cussed Syria over the phone and agreed on the need to com­bine ef­forts in the fight against what the Krem­lin called their No. 1 en­emy – “in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism”.

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has been try­ing for months to ne­go­ti­ate a cease­fire in Aleppo, the epi­cen­tre of the war be­tween Pres­i­dent Bashar Al As­sad and rebels fight­ing to top­ple him, some of whom re­ceive US aid. Al Qaeda’s lo­cal af­fil­i­ate fights along­side the rebels, but ISIS has no pres­ence in Aleppo.

Rus­sian De­fence Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu said in a meet­ing with Putin that the op­er­a­tion in­volves air­craft car­rier Ad­mi­ral Kuznetsov, which made a much-pub­li­cised trip to Syria’s shores last month.

He said Rus­sian war­planes will tar­get am­mu­ni­tion de­pots, train­ing camps and ar­ma­ments fac­to­ries in the rebel-held province of Idlib and the cen­tral province of Homs. He did not im­me­di­ately men­tion Aleppo.

The ac­tivists re­ported strikes in all three places. The Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said mis­siles fired from Rus­sian war­ships in the Mediter­ranean have struck ar­eas in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

The Ob­ser­va­tory said airstrikes also struck three neigh­bour­hoods in Aleppo city, but had no im­me­di­ate word on ca­su­al­ties.

Ac­tivist Baraa Al Hal­aby, who is based in eastern Aleppo, said via text mes­sages that war­planes are fir­ing mis­siles and he­li­copters are drop­ping bar­rel bombs on the eastern part of Syria’s largest city.

“Peo­ple are scared. The bom­bard­ment is in­tense,” Al Hal­aby wrote.

In mid-Oc­to­ber, Rus­sia said it would halt weeks of airstrikes to al­low rebels and sup­port­ers to leave eastern Aleppo.

The rebels re­fused to take up the of­fer and the United Na­tions failed to ne­go­ti­ate the de­liv­ery of aid into the be­sieged area.

On Satur­day, gov­ern­ment troops re­pelled a rebel of­fen­sive on western parts of Aleppo that was de­signed to break the siege on the op­po­si­tion-held east. Aleppo has been con­tested since 2012.

The gov­ern­ment siege has left an es­ti­mated 275,000 peo­ple trapped, with no aid al­lowed in since July, amid a pun­ish­ing bomb­ing cam­paign.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.