11/04/2016, 15.24
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Aleppo, a "humanitarian pause". Moscow prepares the final battle to "unify" the city

Up to 7pm eight humanitarian corridors opened by Syria and Russia to facilitate the evacuation of the eastern sector. The fighting groups have rejected the proposal. Failed peace negotiations, Moscow is preparing to launch the assault for full control of Aleppo. Some sources speak of November 8, to coincide with the US presidential election.

 Aleppo (AsiaNews) - Today a "humanitarian pause" in the fighting is in effect in Aleppo, the second in less than a month declared by Russia, to allow civilians and (armed) militia to abandon the eastern sector of the northern metropolis of Syria. An offer rejected by the militia of al Nusra Front (former Al Qaeda) and other fighting groups, which  are preparing a counter-offensive in the next few days to break the siege of Moscow and Damascus.

The mini-lull in the fighting has provoked  the criticism of the United Nations, which states that "humanitarian operations [evacuation] may not be subordinate to political or military initiatives." Moreover, even in the previous break of October only a handful of civilians managed to flee the eastern sector and the same plan set up by the UN to facilitate the exodus was called off for safety reasons.

Meanwhile people continue to die in the city: 12 victims (but according to some sources 15, including four children) from rocket fire on western districts of Aleppo by rebel and Jihadi militias. The military escalation seems imminent, with the government - with the help of Moscow - ever more determined to recapture the districts in the hands of rebels, extremists and opponents for years.

The world is "appalled" by the deaths in east and Aleppo "so are we. They are our brothers, held hostage and used as human shields by Islamic terrorists. " However, we ask why "the world is not offended in the same way for our civilians, our children, the elderly, women, for our youth fighting and dying here in Aleppo west  from missiles loaded with poisons and gases”, says an Armenian journalist Gandzasar, the only Christian newspaper that continues to be published in Aleppo west, despite all the difficulties. Denouncing this unequal treatment for the victims in the former economic and commercial capital of Syria he asks “Why are our victims second-class?".

The battle for the liberation of Aleppo, which was to have taken place to coincide with the one launched in Mosul, is overdue. The last humanitarian ceasefire has failed to produce the desired fruits and has been violated by the group of the Nusra Front (ex-Qaeda) who rejected the Turkish request - at the invitation of Russia - to release their fighters from Aleppo east.

According to the same organs of the Nusra Front, such as demands "are not binding, but merely formal and took place without any pressure." In short, a sort of proforma to please Moscow but without any results. Thus, the inhabitants of Aleppo east were unable to take advantage of the eight humanitarian corridors still open (six of which reserved to civilians) to leave the city. These escape routes are blocked by the force and threat of militants, who have vowed death to anyone looking to abandon this part of town.

Meanwhile, for over 16 days the Russian air force has not carried out flights in the skies east of Aleppo to prove, according to Moscow's official statements, its good intentions to the United States and allow Washington to define the list of terrorists to be fought or evacuated. A list that also allows them to distinguish the extremists from the "moderate opposition".

Washington’s silence on Russian patience points to the indefinite postponement of any possibility of resolving the crisis in Aleppo through peace talks. This leads us to predict that Moscow has now decided to launch the final battle for the "reunification of Aleppo", without unduly waiting for times and the calculations of any other ally.

In what appears to be the last chance offered by Russia before the big attack, Moscow has declared a new ceasefire for today from 9 to 19 by inviting the gunmen of al Nusra Front (former Al Qaeda) to leave the city through two corridors left free. The Kremlin has assured them it will keep its word as will the Syrian government guaranteeing their "safety" during operations. Jihadists in east  Aleppo, speaking to Reuters, have made it clear that "the Russian request has already been rejected."

A figure in east Aleppo contacted by AsiaNews speak of clashes taking place between the various jihadi factions: the conflict sees one hand Nur Eddin movement Zenki and the Nusra Front, on the other Tajamoe fastakem kama Umert (Be just as you have been ordered, ed). The current conflict has so far caused the deaths of 26 jihadist fighters on both sides, including Ahmad Sabra - better known by the alias Abu Adel - one of the leaders of the al Zenki movement, the group established and supported by Turkey.

From noon today are in negotiations conducted by the head of Free Syrian Army (FSA) Abu Yassin, to restore peace between the various jihadist  quarters in Aleppo east. For its part, Washington - whose closest allies in the fight against Daesh in Aleppo and Raqqa, Kurds and Turks, are divided and antagonistic towards each other - decided to postpone a delivery of weapons of to the People Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish-Syrian ally. The US government has justified the decision by saying that the battle should start from the suburbs and the weapons now in the possession of the Kurds "are more than enough to carry out the operations."

Turkey, through a telephone conversation between Erdogan and President Obama had requested the exclusion of the Kurds from the war against Daesh in Raqqa and Aleppo, obtaining according to many sources a dry and clear agreement from Washington. For the United States the decisions has been made, and now Ankara can decide whether to "go to war under the existing conditions, ie with the presence of the Kurds, or stand aside."

The unknown factor of the Bab remains, which Erdogan wants to occupy militarily as well as  Membej, from where the fighters of the self-styled "Islamic Caliphate" were driven by the Kurds. The Turkish designs have been greeted with harsh warnings from Syria and Russia for whom Bab is a red line and off-limits to the troops of Ankara.

Damascus has said this morning that it has completed all preparations and is ready to launch the battle for the liberation of the Bab, snatching it from the Daesh militia [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State] at any time. All this, while new tanks have been spotted on the border between Syria and Turkey in a show of muscle and strength by Ankara that does not seem to want to go further.

Damascus, meanwhile, has found a new ally in Hashd el Shaabi (The People's enlistment), the paramilitary Iraqi militia composed mainly of Shiites, but which also includes Sunnis, Kurds and Christians. Its leaders have pledged to close the escape route from Mosul to the west for Daesh jihadists, who seek refuge in Syria. "Once we have liberated Iraq from their presence - the militants say - we are ready to follow them even inside the Syrian territory up to Raqqa, until their total elimination."

Meanwhile, Russia has completed all preparations for the final battle, with the arrival of new sophisticated naval fleets in the warm waters of the Syrian Mediterranean. Well-informed sources in the city report that the final battle to "unify Aleppo" is scheduled for November 8, when the US presidential elections are in full swing. So as to present the new tenant  of the White House with a fait accompli. (PB)

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