Rus­sia vows to save Aleppo from ‘ter­ror­ists’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

MOSCOW will con­tinue mil­i­tary operations in the be­sieged and bat­tered eastern part of Aleppo un­til the city is “cleared of ter­ror­ists”, Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov said yes­ter­day.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence on a visit to Tur­key af­ter a meet­ing his Turk­ish coun­ter­part Mev­lut Cavu­soglu in the Mediter­ranean town of Alanya, Lavrov said Rus­sia would con­tinue ef­forts to al­low hu­man­i­tar­ian aid into Aleppo and ac­knowl­edged the need for a truce.

Ankara and Moscow have long been at odds over the war in Syria, where Rus­sia backs the govern­ment of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad and Tur­key sup­ports rebel fac­tions fight­ing to top­ple him.

The an­nounce­ment came as mount­ing ca­su­al­ties pushed the United Na­tions to call once again for an end to the fight­ing.

“Rus­sia and Tur­key have agreed to try and de-es­ca­late the sit­u­a­tion,” Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker said, re­port­ing from Gaziantep along the Tur­key-Syria bor­der.

“Lavrov has con­firmed that the Russians are ac­tively talk­ing to the Syr­ian op­po­si­tion in Aleppo to try to es­tab­lish some form of truce and also some form of hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­cess … hu­man­i­tar­ian cor­ri­dors. But from what we un­der­stand, there are no safe cor­ri­dors.”

The Rus­sia mil­i­tary in­ter­vened in Syria’s war on be­half of As­sad last Oc­to­ber, and has since helped turn the tide of the war against the op­po­si­tion.

Aleppo, which was Syria’s big­gest city be­fore the start of the war, is largely di­vided be­tween the govern­ment-held west and rebel-held east.

A Rus­sian-backed govern­ment of­fen­sive has been par­tic­u­larly bru­tal in the east of that city, where UN of­fi­cials say at least 250 000 peo­ple are un­der siege. Tens of thou­sands of civil­ians, mostly women and chil­dren, have been forced from their homes there since Satur­day. On Wed­nes­day, govern­ment shelling killed at least 51 civil­ians — in­clud­ing seven chil­dren — as they tried to flee the area of Jibb al-Qubba.

Footage and im­ages of the af­ter­math cap­tured by a vol­un­teer res­cue group known as the White Hel­mets showed peo­ple ly­ing in the street in pools of blood, in­clud­ing a woman dressed in black who had been car­ry­ing a large back­pack and a small girl wear­ing pink boots.

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