Syria extends air campaign on Aleppo region: activists

Updated 22 December 2013
0

Syria extends air campaign on Aleppo region: activists

BEIRUT: Syrian warplanes pounded northern Aleppo for a fifth consecutive day Thursday, unleashing their firepower against several rebel-held villages in the province, activists and a monitoring group said.
The latest attacks have killed at least 11 people in just two of the targeted villages, among them four women and two children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“After four days of helicopters dropping barrel bombs on Aleppo city, the regime changed the direction of its raids and struck the village of Tal Alam near Sfeira” southeast of Syria’s second city, the Aleppo Media Center said on Facebook.
Another activist network in the province, Shahba Press, reported air raids on Daret Ezza, Marea, Minbej and Anadan north of Aleppo city.
The villages targeted have been rebel-held for more than a year and have suffered frequent bombing.
But activists called Thursday’s raids an extension of a deadly five-day aerial campaign against the provincial capital itself.
The Observatory also reported the attacks, adding that the Aleppo area of Sheikh Najjar was hit with makeshift barrel bombs which are packed with TNT and are highly destructive.
The Britain-based group also updated its toll from warplane and barrel bomb attacks on Aleppo city to 161 people killed between Sunday and Thursday.
On Thursday alone, at least 11 others were killed in Minbej and Daret Ezza, said the Britain-based group.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had reported more than 189 killed by Wednesday evening from such attacks in Aleppo city alone.
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said it would be difficult, “if not impossible,” for the regime’s military to advance on opposition areas of the country’s former commercial hub.
“But I think it is trying to make the population turn against the rebels, so that the people themselves expel the fighters,” he said.
One Syrian security source has denied that barrel bombs have been used against what the regime calls “terrorists,” but another said the military prefers such weapons over missiles because they are cheaper.
Aleppo has been locked in a stalemate for more than a year, since a massive rebel advance on the provincial capital in July 2012.
Parts of the city have remained squarely under regime control ever since, while others have been in opposition hands.
Fighting between rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, including paramilitaries and officers from Lebanon’s Hezbollah, also raged on the ground in Aleppo city, the Observatory said.
Syria’s war is estimated to have killed more than 126,000 people in 33 months, and forced millions more to flee their homes.


Civilians flee fighting in Syrian southwest

A Syrian family rides with belongings on a tractor-drawn trailer as they flee from fighting in the southern Syrian province of Daraa on June 21, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 June 2018
0

Civilians flee fighting in Syrian southwest

  • Opposition fighters have vowed not surrender “an inch” of the territory to Assad, one of their commanders said earlier this week
  • Fighting in the southwest has been contained since last year by a “de-escalation” deal agreed by the US and Russia, Bashar Assad’s most powerful ally

MOSCOW, BEIRUT: Thousands of people have fled opposition-held areas of southwestern Syria being targeted by regime bombardment, a war monitor said on Thursday, as Damascus steps up attacks on an area near the border with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some 12,500 people had fled opposition-held areas of northeastern Daraa province in the past 48 hours.
The war has pivoted toward the southwest since the Syrian regime and its allies crushed the last remaining pockets of opposition-held territory near Damascus and the city of Homs.
Fighting in the southwest has been contained since last year by a “de-escalation” deal agreed by the US and Russia, Bashar Assad’s most powerful ally.
A major Syrian regime offensive in the area would risk an escalation of the seven-year-old war. The area is of strategic importance to Israel, which is deeply alarmed by Iranian influence in Syria.
Washington has warned it will take “firm and appropriate measures” in response to violations of the “de-escalation” deal.
Assad said earlier this month the regime, at Russia’s suggestion, was seeking to strike a deal in the southwest similar to agreements that have restored its control of other areas through withdrawals of opposition forces.
But he also said there had been no results yet and blamed “Israeli and American interference.” He said the territory would be recovered by force if necessary. Opposition fighters have vowed not surrender “an inch” of the territory to Assad, one of their commanders said earlier this week.

Russia ‘skeptical’ over UN report
Meanwhile, the Russian foreign minister on Thursday said he was “skeptical” about a UN report accusing the Syrian regime of committing crimes against humanity during the siege of Eastern Ghouta. The report published on Wednesday said forces loyal to the Syrian regime had deliberately starved civilians during the siege between February and April, among other crimes.
“We are in principle very skeptical toward the methods of this sort of work, whether it comes to war crimes or the use of chemical weapons,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. When
questioned by journalists, Lavrov confirmed he had not seen the
report.

He said it was “based on data obtained through social networks, video that was filmed by witnesses,” rather than being put together on the ground.
The five-year siege, on the outskirts of the capital, ended in April when Damascus regained control of the rebel enclave.
As pro-government forces dramatically escalated their campaign to recapture the besieged enclave, they used tactics that were “largely unlawful in nature,” the UN-commissioned report said.
The tactics, it said, “aimed at punishing the inhabitants of eastern Ghouta and forcing the population, collectively, to surrender or starve.”
Russia has been involved in Syria’s civil war since September 2015. Its military support of the regime changed the course of the war, allowing government troops to retake more than half the country from rebels and the Daesh group.
More than 350,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.