monday’s syria reports

Syrian army declares end of ceasefire
Deutsche Welle, Sep 19 2016

The Syrian army has accused ‘terrorist groups’ of undermining a ceasefire brokered by Pindostan and Russia. The ‘cessation of hostilities’ aimed at securing peace talks for a political solution to the five-year conflict. The Syrian army on Monday unilaterally declared an end to a Pindo-Russia-brokered ceasefire that witnessed days of calm across the conflict-ridden country. Syrian officials cited repeated ceasefire violations allegedly carried out by Pindo-backed rebels. Pindostan has admitted that a coalition airstrike may have killed scores of Syrian army soldiers amid a fragile ceasefire in Syria. Russia has demanded “full and detailed explanations” at the UNSC. A statement from the military said:

Syria’s army announces the end of the freeze on fighting that began at 7 pm on Sep 12 2016 in accordance with the Pindo-Russian agreement.

The military blamed “armed terrorist groups” for undermining the “cessation of hostilities” and using it to bolster their positions in preparation for attacking government targets. More than 300 ceasefire violations were recorded, the army said. Their announcement comes after the Pentagon confirmed that coalition warplanes struck Syrian army positions (ostensibly) while attempting to fight Daesh operating in Syria. At least 80 Syrian soldiers were killed by the Pindo-led coalition airstrikes on Saturday, with British forces involved in the operations. The Pentagon said in a statement:

Coalition forces believed they were striking a Daesh fighting position. Syria is a complex situation with various military forces and militias in close proximity, but coalition forces would not intentionally strike a known Syrian military unit.

Assad described the airstrikes as “blatant Pindo aggression.” The incident drew a sharp rebuke from Russia. Jackass Kerry said that Russia failed to uphold its side of the bargain by enforcing the truce and pressuring the Syrian government to halt its attacks. Jackass said:

(We’re) meeting now with the Russians in Geneva. That process is continuing, and we’ll see where we are in the course of the day.

But Russia’s Defense Ministry appeared to dismiss the possibility of renegotiating the ceasefire in the wake of Damascus’ announcement. Russia’s Lt-Gen Sergei Rudskoy said in a televised statement:

Considering that the conditions of the ceasefire are not being respected by the rebels, we consider it pointless for the Syrian government forces to respect it unilaterally.

Syrian, Russian Jets Pound Daesh Positions in Deir ez-Zor
Tasnim, Sep 19 2016

TEHRAN – Syrian and Russian jets have attacked Daesh positions in Deir ez-Zor following a Pindo bombing which killed 90 government troops in the eastern town and allowed the Takfiri group (Daesh – RB) to make gains. Lebanon-based al-Mayadin TV said the attacks on Monday wiped out several Daesh positions and inflicted heavy losses, Press TV reported. Two arms depots and several oil tankers of the Takfiri group (Daesh – RB) were destroyed in the airstrikes. Daesh controls large parts of Deir ez-Zor city as well as most of the province for which it is the capital. The Syrian army has been fighting Daesh for the control of a key military airbase there. Syrian troops came under heavy Pindo aerial bombardment on Saturday, which Damascus says was premeditated. Deir ez-Zor has been effectively under a Takfiri (Daesh – RB) siege since early 2015, but the terrorists (Daesh – RB) have suffered major setbacks over the past few months, during which the Syrian army has liberated several areas. On Sunday, Bouthana Shabaan, a senior adviser to Pres Assad, said Damascus believed the US airstrike in Deir ez-Zor was “intentional.” She said:

None of the facts on the ground show that what happened was a mistake or a coincidence.

The Pentagon has said the attack was carried out mistakenly, even though it allowed Daesh to take over some parts of the region. Russia said of the airstrikes:

If, as we hope, were not taken on orders from Washington, they fall between criminal negligence and direct pandering to Daesh terrorists.

Vitaly Churkin called the strike a “bad omen” for the Pindo-Russia deal to halt Syria’s war. On Monday, a seven-day ceasefire declared by the Syrian army expired at midnight, with no immediate announcement of its extension. The “regime of calm” was announced on Sep 12 following a ceasefire brokered by Pindostan and Russia. The government has accused foreign-backed militants of numerous violations of the ceasefire, the second this year. Turkish warplanes bombed northern Syria, the Turkish military said in a statement on Monday, claiming that targets used by Daesh as shelter, ammunition store and military headquarters were hit in the airstrike. The Takfiri group (Daesh – RB) said on Sunday it shot down a Syrian warplane near the city. State media confirmed a plane had been shot down and its pilot killed, but did not say who was responsible.

Syrian Observatory: air strikes kill at least 32 in and near Aleppo
Reuters, Sep 19 2016

BEIRUT – Air strikes on parts of Aleppo and areas to the west held by opposition forces killed at least 32 people on Monday, including 12 people in an attack that hit a convoy of aid trucks, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

UN warns airstrike on Syria aid convoy could be a war crime
Sky News, Sep 19 2016

The UN has expressed outrage after an aid convoy was hit in Syria, and warned the attack could amount to a war crime if it was deliberate. At least 18 trucks in the 31-vehicle convoy were hit in an attack a monitoring group said left 12 aid workers and drivers dead. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) trucks were hit in Urm al-Kubra, a town near Aleppo, and the British MI6-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike was carried out by either the Syrian government or the Russian military. It comes as ministers from the 23-nation International Syria Support Group meet alongside the UNGA in New York to decide what next steps to take in a bid for peace. As well as the aid convoy attack, the SOHR said another 20 people were believed to have been killed in separate incidents as the ceasefire came to an end. UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien did not confirm the casualties cited by the SOHR, but he said initial reports indicated that “many people” were killed or seriously injured, including SARC volunteers. He called for an investigation into the aid convoy attack, saying:

Let me be clear. If this callous attack is found to be a deliberate targeting of humanitarians, it would amount to a war crime.

A statement uploaded to Facebook by Aleppo activists said:

Dozens of martyrs and wounded in Aleppo, and 20 vehicles for Red Crescent set on fire in airstrikes. Martyrs and wounded among civilians were reported, some of them are still stuck under the rubble, in Aleppo city and its suburbs, due to bombardment and artillery shelling.

Pindostan also expressed its outrage, with officials saying the attack could only have been carried out by the Syrian regime or Russia. Adm (Retd) Kirby said:

The destination of this convoy was known to the Syrian regime and the Russian Federation, and yet these aid workers were killed in their attempt to provide relief to the Syrian people. Given the egregious violation of the cessation of hostilities, we will reassess the future prospects for cooperation with Russia.

Jackass Kerry will try to speak with Sergei Lavrov before Tuesday’s meeting of the ISSG. Jackass had earlier indicated that he wanted to press on with the Russian-Pindo process, but boxtops sounded more downbeat after the strike on the convoy. The truce had already been put under pressure following a series of airstrikes at the weekend and a spat between Moscow and Washington over four US-led airstrikes which mistakenly (sic – RB) killed around 60 Syrian soldiers. Pindostan apologised for the bombing, which occurred on a base near Deir az-Zor airport, insisting their intended target was Daesh. UK PM Theresa May has admitted (sic – RB) that Britain played a role in the attack, while alleging (sic – RB) that the British military would never “intentionally” strike Syrian forces. It is understood Britain’s participation involved an unmanned RAF Reaper drone. Syria’s government accused rebels of more than 300 violations and failing to “commit to a single element” of the Pindo-Russia deal.

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