After U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura warned that without a truce in Aleppo, “we could see 400,000 people moving toward the Turkish border,” rebel and government fighters announced an official ceasefire Wednesday night.
As American sources reported the new arrangement, fighting continued in the city after a night of violent clashes, a result of the offensive launched by jihadist groups (some call them “rebels”) that were able to penetrate, apparently due to an underground tunnel and under an intense rocket fire, the western area of the city controlled by government forces. Only after several hours, at the first light of day, the army was able to repel the assault that left an unknown number of dead and injured on both sides.
These were the most violent clashes in Aleppo since last year, accompanied by heavy government air strikes on enemy locations and fire from heavy weapons fired by jihadists toward the western area of the city. Since April 22, at least 280 civilians have died in Aleppo. On Wednesday there were skirmishes also in Ghouta, east of Damascus.
Also the “rebels” have huge responsibility for the failure of the ceasefire proclaimed in late February. Yet according to France and the United States, the blame can be attributed only to Damascus. To them, only one side is committing crimes.
But just count the testimonies of those who live in the hell of war. Father Ibrahim al Sabbagh, a Franciscan monk, told AsiaNews of recent hours in the government-controlled part of Aleppo. “Missiles and rockets fired from the area under rebel control hit the hospital in Dabbi’t, damaging the department of obstetrics and killing 17 children as well as women and men,” he said. “They had previously launched missiles on universities, particularly the state university. … On the road leading to the university, a building was torn down and the number of victims or injured is still unknown.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of unspecified “consequences” if Damascus spurns the Aleppo ceasefire. Then he delivered a sort of ultimatum: By August, Russia and Iran must start the “transition” in Syria. In a few words, they must convince their ally Assad to step aside and give up any role in the future of the country.
Kerry does not mind that several million Syrians back the president and believe, among other things, he is the only one who can protect them from ISIS jihadists (back on the offensive in several areas), the Nusra Front and the radical Salafist group Ahrar ash-Sham, terrorist organizations intent on controlling and dividing Syria after the “transition” Western governments and their Arab allies demand. The secular opposition and what remains of its militia, the Free Syrian Army, count for nothing on the ground.
Meanwhile, Russia claims that the news of the bombing at the Quds hospital in Aleppo on April 27 is false. The Defense Ministry spokesman in Moscow Wednesday showed two photos of the structure, one dated April 29 and the other dated Oct. 15, 2015. Both images purported to show the Doctors Without Borders hospital with the same damage. According to the Russian spokesman, this demonstrated the ongoing “media campaign to discredit the peace process in Syria.”