Fierce fighting and air strikes broke the third day of a unilateral Russian cease-fire in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
- World Was Silent During Holocaust, Is Silent Now With Aleppo
- Without Effort, Russia Restricted the Strongest Air Force in the Middle East
- UN to Launch Inquiry Into War Crimes in Aleppo as Russia Extends Cease-fire
Ground clashes and shelling, which had continued throughout the day on front lines between government-held and insurgent-held parts of the divided city, intensified.
Politics as usual
The entire territory of Syria must be "liberated," Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said in remarks televised Saturday, dismissing demands for Syrian President Bashar Assad's departure as "thoughtless."
The Russian statement came as intense clashes were reported in northern Syria between Turkish troops and Turkey-backed opposition fighters with Kurdish-led forces. The Syrian army command condemned the fresh offensive by Turkish troops inside Syria, describing it as "an occupation that will be dealt with by all available means."
The Turkish military intervened in the Syrian war in August this year under orders from Ankara to clear the border area of Islamic State fighters and U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces linked to Turkey's own outlawed Kurdish insurgency. The Turkish government considers both to be terrorist groups.
Russia's Dmitry Peskov said Assad needs to stay in power to prevent the country from falling into the hands of jihadis.
"There are just two options: Assad sitting in Damascus or the Nusra sitting in Damascus," Peskov said in a reference to the Nusra Front, Al-Qaida's branch in Syria that renamed itself Fatah al-Sham Front earlier this year. "And Assad must sit in Damascus to ensure a political settlement."
Peskov's statement comes as the break in the fighting Russia has declared in the besieged city of Aleppo entered its third day before seemingly collapsing Saturday night. He said Russia's decision to extend the break, which was initially declared for just one day Thursday, wasn't a concession to Western pressure.
The UN greeted the lull intended to allow the evacuation of wounded civilians and fighters from the rebel-held eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo that had been devastated by airstrikes. But the rebels rejected the offer to evacuate and no evacuations were seen along the corridors created by the Syrian government.