Aid con­voys for Aleppo de­layed amid ris­ing vi­o­lence

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS -

BEIRUT >> Trucks car­ry­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to Syria’s be­sieged rebel-held part of the city of Aleppo were held up for yet an­other day as heavy fight­ing broke out Fri­day on the edges of Da­m­as­cus be­tween gov­ern­ment forces and in­sur­gents.

The clashes were some of the most se­ri­ous since a U.S.-Rus­sia-bro­kered cease­fire went into ef­fect this week. The fight­ing and mu­tual ac­cu­sa­tions of vi­o­la­tions sparked con­cern that the frag­ile cease-fire, which brought some re­lief to mil­lions of peo­ple across the war-rav­aged coun­try, may be start­ing to fray.

In a fur­ther sign of ten­sions pick­ing up, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion warned Rus­sia that po­ten­tial mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion in Syria will not hap­pen un­less hu­man­i­tar­ian aid be­gins to flow into Aleppo and other be­sieged com­mu­ni­ties.

The Rus­sian mil­i­tary had said that the Syr­ian army with­drew its ar­mor, ar­tillery and other weapons from a key high­way near Aleppo early Thurs­day, sig­nal­ing the pos­si­ble ar­rival of aid con­voys after sev­eral days of de­lay. Syr­ian state TV said bull­doz­ers be­gan clear­ing the road on the north­west­ern edge of Aleppo that leads into be­sieged rebel-held neigh­bor­hoods to make way for the con­voys.

But a Rus­sian of­fi­cial, Lt. Gen. Vladimir Savchenko, said the Syr­ian army Fri­day moved its heavy weapons back to Castello Road after the op­po­si­tion failed to with­draw their arms in sync in line with the truce deal.

In a video call from Castello Road, Rus­sian Col. Sergei Kapit­syn said the rebels fired on gov­ern­ment po­si­tions overnight, wound­ing two Syr­ian sol­diers and prompt­ing the Syr­ian army to move their weapons back to the road to pre­vent the rebels from ad­vanc­ing.

The Rus­sian mil­i­tary said it has com­plained to the U.S. at a joint work­ing group in Geneva about the op­po­si­tion’s fail­ure to pull back in sync with the Syr­ian army, but re­ceived no im­me­di­ate re­sponse. The Rus­sian mil­i­tary also claimed that the Syr­ian op­po­si­tion has used the truce to re­group and strengthen its forces.

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