A ceasefire in battered Aleppo, northern Syria, will be announced on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said. But moderate rebel groups will have to leave areas where the Islamic State group and al-Nusra Front – Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate – operate. This would hint that regime and Russian bombing of Aleppo would continue under the pretence of targeting “terrorist groups”.
The vice-president of the opposition Syrian National Coalition Muwaffaq Nyrabia said that Russia s policies in Syria are designed to put Syrians in front of two hard choices: either to accept Syrian dictator Bashar Assad s terms in the Geneva negotiations or the bombing and destruction of whole cities and vital civilian facilities will continue. Nyrabia pointed out that the aftermath of the deadly airstrikes by the Assad regime and Russian forces on Aleppo over the past ten days indicates systematic and deliberate attacks against residents of the city. He added that this brutal onslaught on Aleppo is clearly aimed at thwarting the political process.
At least three people have been killed in a rebel rocket attack on a hospital in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. The attack was part of a shelling that left at least 19 people dead in government-controlled areas of the city on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the UK-based monitoring group, said. Rebels and forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been battling each other with rockets and bombs across Aleppo and its outskirts for days now.
The Syrian opposition on Wednesday rejected calls by President Bashar al-Assad for a national unity government, while the White House said Assad’s inclusion would make the proposal a “non-starter”.
Iran has withdrawn most of the Revolutionary Guards fighters it deployed to Syria three months ago, Israeli security officials told The Times of Israel. The decision to withdraw the forces was likely made due to the rising number of casualties among Iranian soldiers fighting in Syria and the subsequent growing public outcry back home
For the first time since the nearly five-year-old Syrian civil war began, world powers agreed on Friday at the United Nations Security Council to embrace a plan for a cease-fire and a peace process that holds the distant prospect of ending the conflict. The resolution makes no mention of whether Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, would be able to run in new elections, which it says must be held within 18 months of the beginning of political talks.
The number of Iranian fighters dying in Syria has reportedly risen in recent weeks. Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reported that several members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were among the fighters killed in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo over just a few days. While Iranian leaders project that they are fighting ISIS, Iranian forces are not anywhere close to an ISIS stranglehold. Instead, they appear to be battling Syrian rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, to force them to retreat or prevent them from capturing more territories in Aleppo, Latakia and Damascus.
A flurry of reports in Iran s official and semi official news outlets about the deaths – including funerals and even a eulogy to a fallen general by Iran]s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – have surprised analysts who monitor the country’s tightly controlled media. The reports, they say, indicate that at least 67 Iranians have been killed in Syria since the beginning of October. Just a few months ago, Iranian media said little about the country s military intervention in Syria to shore up the government.
Iran is recruiting Afghan refugees to fight in Syria, promising a monthly salary and residence permits in exchange for what it claims to be a sacred endeavour to save Shia shrines in Damascus. The Fatemioun military division of Afghan refugees living in Iran and Syria is now the second largest foreign military contingent fighting in support of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, after the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.
Russia has urged the inclusion of Iran, the only other major power giving military support to President Bashar al-Assad, and top American officials have recently acknowledged that no serious discussion of a possible political succession plan in Syria could occur unless Tehran were involved.