Despite airstrikes, Syrian regime says truce still viable

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Syrian FM Walid Al-Moallem. File photo

ARA News

DAMASCUS The internationally-brokered cease-fire in Syria is still viable, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said on Monday.

Al-Moallem’s statement came as rescue teams in the major Syrian city of Aleppo continued searching for victims under the rubble after the regime’s warplanes launched a series of heavy airstrikes on opposition-held neighbourhoods in the city. 

“The Syrian government is prepared to take part in a unity government incorporating elements from the opposition,” the Syrian FM told the Lebanese Mayadeen TV, speaking from New York.

According to activists, at least 200 civilians have been killed under airstrikes in the past week. The UN envoy Staffan de Mistura called the recent aerial campaign one of the worst of the 5 1/2-year war.

Although the Assad regime accused the US, Britain, and France of supporting “terrorists” inside Syria, Al-Moallem said that ongoing communications between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meant a truce agreement brokered two weeks ago is “not dead”.

Russia, a key ally to the Syrian regime, has also participated in the recent aerial campaign on Aleppo. activists reported.

‘BARBARISM’ 

The US called Russia’s action in Syria “barbarism” not counter-terrorism, while Moscow’s UN envoy said ending the war “is almost an impossible task now” as Syrian government forces, backed by Moscow, bombed the city of Aleppo.

The United Nations Security Council met on Sunday at the request of the United States, Britain and France to discuss the escalation of fighting in Aleppo following the announcement on Thursday of an offensive by the Syrian army to retake the city.

“What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism, it is barbarism,” US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told the 15-member council.

“Instead of pursuing peace, Russia and Assad make war. Instead of helping get life-saving aid to civilians, Russia and Assad are bombing the humanitarian convoys, hospitals, and first responders who are trying desperately to keep people alive,” Power said.

Aleppo Under Fire 

On Saturday, more than 70 civilians were reportedly killed and dozens more wounded in Russian and Syrian air raids, that struck populated opposition-held neighbourhoods in eastern Aleppo.

“The Assad regime and Russia carried out joint airstrikes on the opposition-held eastern part of Aleppo City on Saturday evening. At least seven strikes hit the area, causing the death and injury of dozens,” local media activist Wael Ahmed told ARA News. 

The raids also caused massive destruction to residential buildings in the targeted neighbourhoods.

“So far, 72 dead bodies were found, and more than 35 others were seriously wounded,” Saad Issa, a member of the Civil Defence Force in Aleppo said. 

“Our rescue teams are still searching for victims under the ruins of the destroyed buildings,” Issa told ARA News. 

According to activists and medical teams in Aleppo, the Russian and Syrian airforces used cluster bombs in Saturday’s strikes.

“Most of the victims were children and women. Assad and his Russian allies committed a new massacre against the people of Aleppo today,” rights activist Sulaiman Halwani said. “They only targeted populated areas and residential buildings, with a clear goal to force the people to evacuate their homes,” Halwani told ARA News. “Apparently the international community has given up on saving the remaining people in Aleppo.”

The US Ambassador to the United Nations said: “It is time to say who is carrying out those air strikes and who is killing civilians. Russia holds a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, this is a privilege and it is a responsibility. Yet in Syria and in Aleppo, Russia is abusing this historic privilege.” 

Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi

Source: ARA News

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