… from Press TV, Tehran
[ Editor’s Note: It comes as no surprise that the rebels are shelling the aid routes. It is their way of voting no for losing their human shield, which makes the use of heavy weapons more likely to rain down on them.
They know that losing Aleppo is the beginning of the end for them, as the Gulf State money that has been flowing to support them was for taking northern Syria for their pipeline route to the Mediterranean.
Putin gave the ghost away with his statement that the extension of the aid convoy truce will be contingent on the rebels not fighting, so they will obviously do that now, as they have no reputation to protect, and the powers that back them will not be cutting off support for their doing so.
We see the process now in Syria of when the crunch comes of letting the battle-hardened jihadis retreat, regroup, and then be redeployed on a new front. While the Russians say that letting IS escape from Mosul so they can fight in Syria is just prolonging the War on Terror, and that they should be destroyed in place.
But in Syria, the Russians play a different tune, although the situation there makes that call a Damascus one, since it is Syrian soldiers that will be fighting the redeployed jihadis, who are being allowed to leave with weapons. It looks like Ibid is now going to be the next Aleppo, where everything there will be destroyed.
The alternative is that the loss of Aleppo will trigger a desire for the opposition to enter the peace talks. But from experience, we have seen that they know they will not keep getting arms and supplies for losing, and hence will not want to go into the peace process in a position of weakness.
As long as the outside aid coming into them continues, the war will probably keep going. Gunmen do not want to become destitute refugees. They will fight for anyone, and for any reason, to have what they feel is a higher position on the food chain before accepting the bottom rung… Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … October 20, 2016 –
Clashes have broken out in Aleppo shortly after a unilateral Syrian ceasefire went into effect on Thursday to allow civilians and foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants to leave the eastern part of the city.
Artillery shells were fired at “humanitarian corridors” which the army opened in two designated areas in the Bustan al-Qasr quarter and near the Castello road in northern Aleppo city, reports said.
Syria’s official news agency SANA blamed “terrorist groups” which have accused the government of emptying militant-held areas of civilians so it can take over the whole city.
State-owned Ikhbariyah television said terrorists had fired a barrage of mortars near where ambulances had been heading to take patients from the besieged parts of the city for treatment in government-held areas.
The humanitarian pause took effect at 8 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) on Thursday and will expire at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT). The Syrian army has said the pause in its military offensive will last three days.
Russian military officials said six corridors had been opened for civilians and humanitarian aid deliveries, while two others have been meant for militants.
One of the corridors is in the direction of the Turkey-Syria border which terrorists use for shipment of arms and militants, while the other leads to the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib southwest of Aleppo.
Russian and Syrian aircraft stopped bombing militant-held neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo on Tuesday, two days ahead of the truce. Russia said the jets have been deployed to an area at least 10 kilometers away from Aleppo.
The United Nations, however, has argued that the temporary truce was not long enough to provide any relief supplies.
Russia ready to extend truce
In Berlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted at the possibility of extending the humanitarian truce in Aleppo, stating that Moscow was ready to take such a step.
“We have made clear our intention to extend as far as possible, depending on the current situation on the ground, the halt in our airstrikes,” he said on Wednesday.
“We are ready to do this for as long as there are no clashes with rebel formations entrenched in Aleppo,” he said following a meeting with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The militants, however, say they are preparing a large-scale offensive to break the siege of Aleppo and that the Russian air force has failed.
“The coming battle is not going to be like others. We are waiting for the signal of the start of a decisive battle which will surprise the regime and its militias,” said Abu Obeida al-Ansari, a commander from al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front.
The group has been rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, with Russian and Syrian officials saying the US is supporting the group and refusing to separate its members from what Washington regards as “moderate” militants.