Rus­sia warns against U.S. at­tack on Syr­ian forces

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Bassem Mroue

BEIRUT >> Rus­sia warned the United States Satur­day against car­ry­ing out any at­tacks on Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces, say­ing it would have reper­cus­sions across the Mid­dle East as gov­ern­ment forces cap­tured a hill on the edge of the north­ern city of Aleppo un­der the cover of airstrikes.

Rus­sian news agen­cies quoted For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Maria Zakharova as say­ing that a U.S. in­ter­ven­tion against the Syr­ian army “will lead to ter­ri­ble, tec­tonic con­se­quences not only on the ter­ri­tory of this coun­try but also in the re­gion on the whole.”

She said regime change in Syria would cre­ate a vac­uum that would be “quickly filled” by “ter­ror­ists of all stripes.”

U.S.-Rus­sian ten­sions over Syria have es­ca­lated since the break­down of a cease-fire last month, with each side blam­ing the other for its fail­ure. Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces backed by Rus­sian war­planes have launched a ma­jor on­slaught on rebel-held parts of the north­ern city of Aleppo.

Syr­ian troops pushed ahead in their of­fen­sive in Aleppo on Satur­day cap­tur­ing the strate­gic Um alShuqeef hill near the Pales­tinian refugee camp of Han­darat that gov­ern­ment forces cap­tured from rebels ear­lier this week, ac­cord­ing to state TV. The hill is on the north­ern edge of the Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and former com­mer­cial cen­ter.

The pow­er­ful ul­tra­con­ser­va­tive Ahrar al-Sham mil­i­tant group said rebels re­gained con­trol Satur­day of sev­eral po­si­tions they lost in Aleppo in the Bus­tan alBasha neigh­bor­hood.

State me­dia said 13 peo­ple were wounded when rebels shelled the cen­tral gov­ern­ment-held neigh­bor­hood of Mi­dan.

Airstrikes on Aleppo struck a hospi­tal in the eastern rebel-held neigh­bor­hood of Sakhour putting it out of ser­vice, ac­cord­ing to the Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights and the Lo­cal Co­or­di­na­tion Com­mit­tees. They said one per­son was killed in the airstrike.

Op­po­si­tion ac­tivist Ah­mad Alkhatib de­scribed the hospi­tal, known as M10, as one of the largest in Aleppo. He posted pho­to­graphs on his Twit­ter ac­count show­ing the dam­age in­clud­ing beds cov­ered with dust, a hole in its roof and de­bris cov­er­ing the street out­side.

A doc­tor at the hospi­tal told the Aleppo Me­dia Cen­ter, an ac­tivist col­lec­tive, that thou­sands of peo­ple were treated in the com­pound in the past ad­ding that two peo­ple were killed in Satur­day’s airstrikes and sev­eral were wounded.

“A real catas­tro­phe will hit med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions in Aleppo if the di­rect shelling con­tin­ues to tar­get hos­pi­tals and clin­ics,” said the doc­tor whose name was not given. He said the whole hospi­tal is out of ser­vice.

Op­po­si­tion ac­tivists have blamed the Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s forces and Rus­sia for airstrikes that hit Civil De­fense units and clin­ics in the city where eastern rebel-held neigh­bor­hoods are be­sieged by gov­ern­ment forces and pro-gov­ern­ment mili­ti­a­men.

On Fri­day, the in­ter­na­tional med­i­cal hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tion Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders de­manded that the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment and its al­lies “halt the in­dis­crim­i­nate bomb­ing that has killed and wounded hun­dreds of civil­ians­many of them chil­dren,” over the past week in Aleppo.

“Bombs are rain­ing from Syria-led coali­tion planes and the whole of east Aleppo has be­come a gi­ant kill box,” said Xisco Villalonga, direc­tor of op­er­a­tions for the group. “The Syr­ian gov­ern­ment must stop the in­dis­crim­i­nate bomb­ing, and Rus­sia as an in­dis­pens­able po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary ally of Syria has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to ex­ert the pres­sure to stop this.”

It said from Sept. 21 to 26, hos­pi­tals still func­tion­ing in Aleppo re­ported re­ceiv­ing more than 822 wounded, in­clud­ing at least 221 chil­dren, and more than 278 dead bodies in­clud­ing 96 chil­dren ac­cord­ing to the Direc­torate of Health in east Aleppo.

Swe­den’s For­eign Min­is­ter Mar­got Wall­strom crit­i­cized at­tacks on civil­ian tar­gets writ­ing on her Twit­ter ac­count: “Un­ac­cept­able to bomb civil­ians, chil­dren and hos­pi­tals in #Aleppo. No hu­man­ity. As­sad & Rus­sia mov­ing fur­ther away from peace.”

In the eastern prov­ince of Deir el-Zour, war­planes of the U.S.-led coali­tion de­stroyed sev­eral bridges on the Euphrates river, ac­cord­ing to Syr­ian state news agency SANA and Deir elZour 24, an ac­tivist me­dia col­lec­tive. The prov­ince is a strong­hold of the Is­lamic State group.

SANA said that among the bridges de­stroyed was the Tarif Bridge that links the eastern city of Deir elZour with the north­ern Syr­ian city of Raqqa, the ex­trem­ists’ de-facto cap­i­tal.

SYR­IAN CIVIL DE­FENSE WHITE HEL­METS VIA AP

In this photo pro­vided by the Syr­ian Civil De­fense group known as the White Hel­mets, Syr­i­ans in­spect dam­aged build­ings af­ter airstrikes by gov­ern­ment he­li­copters on the rebel-held Aleppo neigh­bor­hood of Mash­had, Syria, Tues­day. A year af­ter Rus­sia waded into the war in Syria, aim­ing to flex its na­tional se­cu­rity mus­cles and prop up be­lea­guered Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad, Moscow ap­pears no closer to one of its mil­i­tary goals: get­ting the U.S. to co­or­di­nate com­bat op­er­a­tions in the civil war. And prospects of a diplo­matic res­o­lu­tion seem dim.

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