US may go outside UN to ‘impose costs’ on Russia & Syria – White House
Kerry Calls For War Crimes Probe Against Russia, Syria
It will likely not come as a surprise that just one day after George Soros slammed Russian president Putin for “heinous crimes against humanity”, giving the greenlight to the media and policymakers to follow suit, moments ago the paragon of non-interventionist foreign policy, US Secretary of State John Kerry, said that Russia and Syria should face a war crimes investigation for their attacks on Syrian civilians. When making the statement, Kerry alleged that Syrian forces struck another hospital overnight, killing 20 people and wounding 100, adding that Russia and Syria owe the world “more than an explanation” about why they keep hitting hospitals and women and children. “Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals, medical facilities, children, women,” Kerry said after meeting with the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Friday. “These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes.”
Moscow has responded that Syrian jets, backed by the Russian air force, are targeting militants in East Aleppo after jihadist groups in control of the enclave there repeatedly violated the cessation of hostilities, according to Moscow and Damascus. UN estimates put the number of militants in East Aleppo between six and eight thousand, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, about half of whom belong to the terrorist organization Al-Nusra Front. Earlier today it was reported that Russia is prepared to urge the Syrian government to let them depart the city, Lavrov added. Retuers confirmed as much when it reported earlier today that Assad offers rebels amnesty if they surrender Aleppo The UN’s envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, personally offered to escort the militants out. “If you [Al-Nusra] did decide to leave, in dignity with your weapons, to Idlib or anywhere you wanted to go, I personally am ready, physically ready, to accompany you,” he said on Thursday.
As a reminder, earlier this week Washington suspended bilateral contacts with Russia over the Syrian crisis on Monday, accusing Moscow of not doing enough to restrain the government in Damascus. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said that Russia had made every effort to preserve the September 9 ceasefire agreement, while repeatedly urging Washington to live up to its obligations and separate the so-called “moderate opposition” fighters from Al-Nusra and other terrorists. He also accused the two countries of undertaking a “targeted strategy … to terrorize civilians”, while saying nothing at all about the thousands of innocent civilians killed by US drone strikes under the Obama administration, and even less about the ongoing Saudi airstrikes in Yemen which have killed tens of thousands of civilians ever since the start of the March 2015 conflict which, unlike the proxy war in Syria, has gotten virtually no media coverage in the past year.
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The Eastern and Western territories of Damascus province were the scenes of heavy attacks by the Syrian Army and Air Force on militants’ positions, military sources said, adding that dozens of militants were killed or wounded in the attacks.
The terrorists sustained heavy casualties in the Syrian army’s offensive on their positions in Damascus countryside.
The army units also continued to march on the terrorists’ positions in other provinces across Syria.
The Syrian army units and popular forces, deployed near Deir Al-Khabiyeh, continued to push back the terrorists of Fatah al-Sham Front (the newly-formed al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group previously known as the al-Nusra Front) from more regions in Khan al-Sheih in Western Ghouta, inflicting over 30 casualties on the militants.
“During the clashes, 30 Nusra Front terrorists were killed and 12 military vehicles were destroyed,” a military source said on Thursday.
The source added that after the clashes, the army seized control over 8 residential complexes in the Southwestern parts of Abu Shieh hill in Khan al-Sheih region.
“The terrorists left their weapons and fled the battleground,” the source said.
Also, in a relevant development, the army repelled the terrorist groups’ offensives on a number of military points in Jobar, Arabin, Tal al-Sowan, Hatitah al-Jarash, al-Masah and the refugees’ camp in Eastern Ghouta, killing and wounding dozens of militants.
The army troops and popular forces, backed by Syrian warplanes, advanced in Damascus province, deploying forces near the key town of al-Reihan in Eastern Ghouta.
Syrian strikers pounded the positions of militants at several farms located between al-Reihan and Tal Kurdi in Eastern Ghouta region in Damascus on Wednesday night.
According to a battlefield source, the Syrian air force conducted tens of airstrikes over Jeish al-Islam’s positions, paving the ground for the pro-government forces to encircle the militant group in the strategic town.
A military source said that the Syrian soldiers were only less than 1 kilometer away from al-Reihan’s gates, adding that the pro-gov’t forces are ready to start the final phase of the military operations to recapture the town.
The Syrian army and National Defense Forces managed to repulse repeated attacks by the three terrorist groups of Jeish al-Fatah, Jeish al-Izza and al-Firqat al-Wosta on their strongholds in Northern Hama on Thursday.
“The army and its allies repelled the militants’ assaults in Abu Abideh, al-Jabin and Tal Malah villages in Northern Hama,” a source said on Thursday.
“The army forces inflicted 48 casualties on the militants and destroyed their armored vehicles carrying ammunition as well as 5 vehicles, equipped with heavy machineguns,” the source added.
Elsewhere, the army seized a large cargo of ammunition from the terrorists. The weapons cargo was destined to al-Rastan region when it hit the booby traps laid by the army in a region between Salamiyah and al-Rastan.
Also, the Syrian warplanes pounded the terrorists’ tanks and military vehicles in Northern Hama, killing tens of the militants.
Earlier on Thursday, the Syrian army forces repelled the terrorists’ attacks on army checkpoints in Tal Malah, al-Shaliout and al-Jabin in Hama, killing and wounding tens of militants.
A military source said that the army forces could resist against the terrorists’ offensives, and inflicted over 20 casualties on the militants.
“At least 40 more terrorists were wounded in the clashes,” he added.
Concurrent with the attacks, the Syrian and Russian fighter jets pounded the terrorists’ positions in al-Latamenah, al-Zakat and al-Zalaqiyat, destroying their weapons, vehicles and military equipment, the source added.
Syrian army units in cooperation with popular forces carried out special operations against the fortified positions of the Takfiri terrorists in Bustan al-Pasha neighborhood in Aleppo city, a military source said.
“The pro-government forces managed to take full control over the Sports club, its housing compound and a school in the neighborhood,” the source said.
Tens of militants were killed or injured during the operations, while the rest fled into the neighboring regions, the source added.
Earlier on Thursday, the Syrian army and popular forces, supported by the Russian warplanes, attacked the terrorists in the Northeastern parts of Aleppo, forcing them to leave their positions in the region.
The Syrian army and the Russian air force launched offensives on terrorists’ sites in Oweijeh, Maqta al-Baqara and al-Shalal regions and managed to win control over the textile and weaving plants, the water facility building, some parts of al-Shalal region, the Milano and Torang swimming pools and Housing Project 10 towards al-Ameriya.
The Syrian army and popular forces targeted a meeting of Fatah al-Sham Front commanders in Tal Zahab village of al-Houla region Northwest of Homs.
The attack blew up three armored vehicles, a technical vehicle equipped with machineguns and over 4 motorbikes.
Over 30 Fatah al-Sham militants were killed, among them non-Syrian commanders, including Abu Jinadah Tunisi, Osama Bakour nom de guerre Abu al-Qa’qa Homsi, and Sha’ban Junaid nom de guerre Abdulrahman al-Sha’ban,” a field source said on Thursday.
Also, military sources said that the Syrian fighter jets launched massive attacks on Fatah al-Sham and other terrorist groups in Talbiseh, al-Rastan, Kisin, Borj Qa’ie, Talaf, al-Farhaniya, Izziddin, al-Qunaitarat, Deir Ful and Um Sharshouh in the Northern and Northwestern parts of Homs.
The offensives destroyed several bases and gathering centers of the terrorists, killing all those inside, and smashed a number of their military vehicles carrying militants.
Meantime, the Jeish al-Fatah terrorist group lost its missile platforms as well as tens of its fighters during a Syrian army raid in the Northwestern parts of Homs.
“The Jeish al-Fatah terrorists attacked Qarmas and Marimin villages in the Northwestern parts of Homs which received a crushing response from the army when their missile and mortar launch pads were smashed,” an informed source said.
The source added that dozens of militants were killed and wounded during the exchange of fire.
Also, the army and National Defense Forces (NDF) targeted a car carrying terrorists from al-Qajar village towards Um Sharshouh village in the Northern parts of Homs which killed and wounded the militants inside.
In another development in the Eastern parts of Homs, the Syrian soldiers and air force launched heavy artillery attacks and repeated airstrikes on ISIL positions in Khanifis village and nearby areas as well as Talal al-Sawahan region which inflicted a heavy toll and damage on the militants.
The Syrian armed forces launched massive operations against the strongholds and gathering centers of the Fatah al-Sham Front terrorist group in Quneitra, leaving dozens of militants dead and wounded.
Media sources said that the Syrian army and National Defense Forces (NDF) shelled the Fatah al-Sham militants’ bases in Western al-Naqar village in the Southwestern parts of Mashati al-Hazar in heavy artillery fire.
The sources said that the militants’ positions were fully destroyed and over 15 terrorists were killed and wounded.
The Syrian armed forces launched massive attacks against the Fatah al-Sham Front in different parts of Dara’a, destroying their strongholds and inflicting heavy casualties on the militants.
“The army smashed the terrorists’ positions in Dara’a al-Balad, al-Naeema, Western al-Qariya and al-Abbasiya districts,” a military source said.
Also, the army killed a number of terrorists who were building fortresses in the Southeastern parts of the power building and the refugees camp in Dara’a al-Balad, he added.
According to the source, the army operations against the terrorists’ gathering centers in Dara’a al-Balad destroyed three of their bases in the Eastern parts of Basari square, destroyed a vehicle in the South of Qatifan building and killed several terrorists.
The Syrian army forces also targeted a terrorist group in a missile attack in the Northeastern parts of Western al-Qariya bridge. Army reports said tens of the terrorists were killed in the attack and their weapons and equipment were also destroyed.
The army operations in the Eastern parts of al-Naeemah town also left dozens of militants dead and wounded.
The Syrian army troops and fighter jets conducted concurrent operations against the positions and gathering centers of the ISIL terrorist group in different parts of Deir Ezzur, inflicting a heavy toll on the militants.
“The Syrian army units destroyed the bases, gathering centers and military vehicles of the ISIL terrorists in al-Amal, al-Jabilah, al-Roshdiyeh, al-Hawiqah, Western parts of Tal Barouk and Eastern parts of Deir Ezzur airbase,” a military source said on Thursday.
The source added that the Syrian warplanes also bombed ISIL’s positions near Jabal al-Tharda, South of Deir Ezzur city, regions near Deir Ezzur airbase and al-Mari’ah and al-Huwaija farms in Southeastern Deir Ezzur.
According to the source, a large number of terrorists were killed and wounded during the ground and air assaults.
Situation in Syria escalates
Russia ready to support UN envoy’s proposal to allow Al Nusra to exit Aleppo with arms – Lavrov
Russia is ready to urge the Syrian government to let Al-Nusra Front militants exit Aleppo with their weapons, as proposed by the UN envoy to Syria, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says. Once the jihadists exit the war-ravaged city, Syrian government troops and the opposition will be able to form joint law-and-order bodies, Russia’s top diplomat said, as cited by RIA Novosti. “In the first place, those who don’t leave with ‘Nusra’ should clearly separate themselves [from it], on paper, officially sign such a commitment,” Lavrov said. “Maybe then the government law enforcers and this armed opposition will be able to form some kind of joint law-and-order bodies to ensure normal life, so that people would feel safe,” he continued. On Thursday, the UN’s envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, warned that East Aleppo might be destroyed within two months if the military action in the city continues. He also urged Al-Nusra to leave the city, saying that he is willing to personally escort them out. “If you [Al-Nusra] did decide to leave, in dignity with your weapons, to Idlib or anywhere you wanted to go, I personally am ready, physically ready, to accompany you,” he said. Lavrov noted that according to the UN estimations there are between six and eight thousand militants in Aleppo. “Among them up to half, that what Mistura said in the UN Security Council [are from] ‘Jabhat Al-Nusra,” the Russian Foreign Minister said. If Al-Nusra exits Aleppo and moves to Idlib, where its major forces are located, Russia “will be ready to call on the Syrian Government to agree with that,” Lavrov added. He noted that de Mistura’s proposal on Al-Nusra Front may lay ground to a respective decision by the UN Security Council (UNSC). If existing difficulties will be resolved “that exactly may become the core of the UNSC decision on how to deal with the situation in Aleppo right now.”
However any such move would be meaningless unless the moderate opposition forces separate themselves from the Al-Nusra Front jihadists. Moscow: US did not provide proper data to separate rebels from Al-Nusra During a press-briefing on Friday, Russia’s deputy-Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said that the US has consistently failed to separate moderate rebel forces from terrorists in Syria, noted that back in February Washington gave a “generalized scheme of concentration” of the Al-Nusra terrorists across Syria to Russia that proved to be less than helpful as the document “effectively did not allow separating moderate opposition from terrorists.” “As a result, it was not possible to mark the borders of the areas occupied by the ‘moderate’ opposition and separate them from the radical terrorist groups. In the aftermath it has led to problems in identifying specific violators of the ceasefire,” Antonov said. The official stressed that, from the time of the first truce deal for Syria brokered by Russia and the US back in February, Washington has only managed to persuade parts of the moderate rebels to observe ceasefires. “More than 100 groups continued military action,” Antonov went on to say. Berlin wants Moscow to press Assad to end ‘atrocious’ violence On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Russia to end what she described as “atrocious” violence in Aleppo, citing Moscow’s influence on the Syrian government. Similar calls have been made by the government spokesperson, Steffen Seibert. “We believe that Russia and Iran in particular are obligated to use their influence on the Assad regime to halt the escalation in violence and the suffering of the civilian population,” Seibert said.
Syrian jets, backed by Russian Airforce, are targeting militants in East Aleppo after jihadists there repeatedly violated the cessation of hostilities, according to Moscow and Damascus. On Thursday, Lavrov said that Russia wants to resolve the Aleppo deadlock via “all means available.” He also stressed that in terms of humanitarian aid deliveries Moscow “does not divide Aleppo into parts, controlled by government and militants.” During an interview with Denmark’s TV 2 channel, Syrian President Bashar Assad said he wants to completely liberate Aleppo from militants, however in doing so “deals” and “amnesties” should play a key part. He nevertheless stressed that the assumption that there is “moderate” opposition does not reflect the truth. Instead the Syrian leader called such forces “a myth.”
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Iraq requests UNSC session over Turkish deployment
US-led coalition says Turkish army ‘on its own’ in Iraq as Baghdad calls UNSC meeting
The spokesman for the US-led anti-ISIS coalition has said Turkish ground troops in Iraq are not acting as part of the alliance. Baghdad has called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting, saying Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty. The statement came on Thursday from Col. John Dorrian, who is a spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF), an anti-Islamic State coalition consisting of 65 countries. Dorrian announced during a briefing in Baghdad that Turkey is operating “on its own” in Iraq, AP quoted him as saying. The coalition position is that every unit “should be here with the coordination or and with the permission of the government of Iraq,” he is also quoted as saying. On Thursday, Baghdad called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to discuss the issue. The body should “shoulder its responsibility and adopt a resolution to end to the Turkish troops’ violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,” spokesperson for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Ahmad Jamal said.
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US airstrikes kill Iraqi fighters once again
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