Government Forces Gain Ground in Old Aleppo as Rebels Call for Cease-Fire
Syrian government forces and their allies advanced in Aleppo’s old quarters on Wednesday, widening their control over the eastern side of the city to 75 percent, according to the BBC.
Rebel fighters in the area reportedly pulled back from neighborhoods they controlled in the old quarters overnight, after a pro-government offensive advanced on and seized the central rebel neighborhood of al-Shaar, according to the Associated Press.
As fighting continues, opposition forces called for a five-day cease-fire in Aleppo. The document, signed by the Aleppo Leadership Council, called for negotiations and the evacuation of civilians and some 500 medical cases, Reuters reported. The “humanitarian initiative” document also specified that civilians be allowed to evacuate to the northern Aleppo countryside and not to Idlib, where many rebel fighters have been forcibly transferred in recent weeks.
International parties have yet to respond to the cease-fire proposal, according to Reuters. However, Russia already vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on Monday that called for a week-long truce in Aleppo to evacuate civilians, the sick and the injured and allow humanitarian aid deliveries into the besieged area.
“Those who refuse to leave [Aleppo] nicely will be destroyed,” Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow. “There is no other way.”
House Passes Bill Allowing Transfer of MANPADS to Syrian Rebels
U.S. Congress passed a bill late last week that will allow the incoming White House administration to provide shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to Syrian opposition forces, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
The defense legislation contradicts established U.S. policy that prohibits “transferring the shoulder-fired weapons to nonstate actors,” the Washington Post reported.
“The conferees continue to believe that putting MANPADS [man-portable air-defense systems] in Syria is a profoundly risky proposition,” a House Armed Services Committee spokesman told the Washington Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “However, the situation is so dynamic that they were hesitant to eliminate any option wholesale that a commander might want to consider.”
Russia Reportedly Resumes Airstrikes on Idlib Province
As the Syrian government and its allies advance in Aleppo, Russia has stepped up aerial bombardments in Idlib over the past 72 hours, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Suspected Russian airstrikes on Idlib city and the surrounding countryside, an area largely under opposition control, killed at least 25 civilians on Tuesday, according to the New Arab. This brings the total number of victims in Idlib this week to 121, including 27 children and 21 women, the Observatory reported.
On Sunday, suspected Russian airstrikes on three locations in Idlib province killed at least 73 people.
Idlib province in Syria’s northwest is largely controlled by a rebel alliance known as Jaish al-Fatah. In recent weeks, rebels and their families living in besieged areas of the Damascus suburbs have been evacuated to Idlib after local factions reached an agreement with the Syrian government.
- The Associated Press: No More Room for the Dead as Syria’s Aleppo Is Crushed
- The Syria Institute: Infographic: The Assad Coalition
- The Nation: Regarding the Spectacle
- Carnegie Institute: A Turning Point in Aleppo
- The New York Times: How the War Ends in Syria