UN Syria Envoy Offers to Escort Rebel Fighters From Aleppo
Nick Cumming-Bruce, Rick Gladstone, NYT, Oct 6 2016
GENEVA — UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura proposed a new truce on Thursday, in hopes of averting what he called the destruction of rebel-held eastern Aleppo by Russian and Syrian forces. He offered to personally escort the Jihadis in the area to safety if the bombing is halted. The proposal by the diplomat reflected his despair over the relentless bombardment by the Syrian military and its Russian allies in the past few weeks. But the proposal also was seen as part of a possible new diplomatic effort to press the Russians over their role in the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Aleppo. The Russians have said that their target in Aleppo is Jabhat al-Nusra. Speaking to reporters at the UN in Geneva, de Mistura said (note immediately following bollocks – RB):
The opposition groups have a total of no more than 8,000 fighters in eastern Aleppo, including roughly 900 to 1,000 Nusra members. Their departure from the city would remove any justification by Russia and Syria for the ferocious bombardments. Are you really ready to continue this type of level of fighting? and de facto destroy the whole city of eastern Aleppo, which is home to 275,000 people, for the sake of eliminating 1,000 Nusra fighters?
De Mistura warned that eastern Aleppo “may be totally destroyed” by Xmas. He proposed that Syria and Russia immediately stop bombing there if the Nusra fighters promise to leave. Addressing his plea to those fighters, he said that if they depart with their dignity and their weapons, “I personally am ready physically to accompany you.” His offer came as Russia FM Lavrov was meeting in Moscow with French foreign minister Ayrault. France has proposed a UNSCR that would revive the cease-fire in Syria. Lavrov told reporters that Russia was interested in studying de Mistura’s proposal, but made no commitment to it. Russia’s approach to France’s draft also remained unclear, but diplomats at the UN said the Russians had been negotiating reluctantly. Starting with Aleppo, the resolution would ground all warplanes over the city and ensure that humanitarian aid could get in. French ambassador to the UN Delattre said Thursday that he was determined to put it up for a vote.
Lavrov says Russian missile systems in Syria are purely defensive
Reuters, Oct 6 2016
Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that advanced S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missile systems operated by the Russian military in Syria were for purely defensive needs and did not pose a threat to anyone. Lavrov was speaking at a news conference after meeting French FM Ayrault.