Aleppo as Russian, Syrian Jets Remain Grounded

Sputnik-Middle East
Aftermath of mortar shelling of Aleppo
Russian and Syrian military aircraft have not conducted any missions in Aleppo for 13 days, but the situation in the embattled Syrian city has not improved, with radical groups shelling residential areas and preventing civilians from leaving, defense analyst Igor Korotchenko told Radio Sputnik, adding that such pauses help terrorists “to regroup.”

“The situation [in Aleppo] has not really stabilized,” he said. “Urban fighting is ongoing. The Syrian Arab Army, assisted by Hezbollah fighters has been active in the city. But no airstrikes have been conducted.”

Korotchenko maintained that such pauses are “harmful” since radical groups could well use them to “regroup,” resupply and redeploy reinforcements. “A decisive offensive is the only way to destroy terrorists,” he emphasized.

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On Sunday, the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed that aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Arab Air Force have remained on the ground for 13 consecutive days. Meanwhile, terrorist groups have continued to shell residential areas and humanitarian corridors established to allow civilians and unarmed militants to leave rebel-held areas of eastern Aleppo.
“However, twelve Syrians managed to reach safe areas of the city last night through the corridor in the al-Mashar neighborhood,” the ministry said. “According to the refugees, they were allowed to leave after giving a $300 bribe per person to one of the field commanders. Three families had to sell all of their belongings.” Law enforcement officers near cars and ambulances in a humanitarian corridor along the Castello Road in northern Aleppo, Syria © Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin Law enforcement officers near cars and ambulances in a humanitarian corridor along the Castello Road in northern Aleppo, Syria Daily reports of the Russian Centre for reconciliation of opposing sides paint a bleak picture of what is happening in Aleppo.

Daily reports of the Russian Centre for reconciliation of opposing sides paint a bleak picture of what is happening in Aleppo.
On Saturday, radical groups used improvised multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), tube artillery, mortars and small weapons to carry out attacks in several neighborhoods, including 1070 and 3000 districts, Hai al-Ansari, Arian, al-Masharqa and Ramouseh. In addition, al-Nusra Front sent a suicide bomber to a government-held area near the Hal al-Ansari neighborhood, leaving five civilians killed and seven wounded.

This is not an isolated incident. Similar attacks have taken place on a regular basis. Meanwhile, Russia has made every effort to deliver humanitarian aid to the city. On Friday alone, Russian forces delivered 400 kg of aid to university and police hospitals.

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Russian officials expressed regret that the United States has been reluctant to use this opportunity to convince rebel groups that it backs to leave the city and cut ties with radicals.

“We have really hoped that our American partners would use the humanitarian pause and the absence of air strikes to finally convince the ‘moderate opposition’ to dissociate themselves from [al-Nusra Front], which, in fact, rules the roost in eastern Aleppo and issues orders to all other armed opposition groups located there,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on October 28. “Unfortunately, once again, they failed to draw such a line,” he continued. “Clearly, terrorists have cut off humanitarian corridors created specifically for civilians. Instead of letting civilians leave the city, these corridors now come under targeted fire from the militants.” Lavrov further said that Washington’s calls for a ceasefire in Syria have only been “designed to gain time and give the extremists a respite. Needless to say, they are taking advantage of that.” On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declined the Russian General Staff’s request to renew airstrikes on militant positions in eastern Aleppo in Syria to enable Washington to fulfill its promise and commitment to separate the so-called moderate opposition from terrorist groups and contribute to the evacuation from the city. However, “Russia reserves the right to use all means it has to provide support to the armed forces of the Syrian Arab Republic when it is absolutely necessary to prevent provocative acts by terrorist groups,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.