Friday , October 22 2021

Moscow seeks ‘honest’ help for political solution in Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivers a speech during a press conference after a meeting with his Greek counterpart in Athens on November 2, 2016 as part of his one-day official visit to Greece. Russia seeks "honest cooperation" for a political solution in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on November 2 as Moscow declared a brief truce in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo. "We hope our partners will draw (the) necessary conclusions (so that) we will all aim for honest cooperation... for a political process involving both the government and opposition forces," Lavrov said at the start of an official visit to Greece. / AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS

 

Athens / AFP

Russia seeks “honest cooperation” for a political solution in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday as Moscow declared a brief truce in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo.
“We hope our partners will draw (the) necessary conclusions (so that) we will all aim for honest cooperation… for a political process involving both the government and opposition forces,” Lavrov said at the start of an official visit to Greece.
However, he insisted that Washington help enforce a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning support for extremist groups in Syria.
“When we adopted this resolution, I remember US Secretary of State John Kerry’s words. He said: ‘Whoever wants to be part of (the political) process must sever links to extremits’,” Lavrov said through a translator.
“Almost a year has passed and we await these words to be carried out,” he added. Russia has accused the US-led coalition of failing to rein in hardline Syrian rebels, warning that the chances of a political settlement to the crisis was now remote.
In turn, the West has accused Moscow of committing possible war crimes in Aleppo through indiscriminate bombing to support a brutal Syrian government offensive.
Moscow has been conducting a bombing campaign in Syria in support of long-time ally Bashar Al-Assad since September 2015.
More than 300,000 people have been killed since Syria’s war devolved from a widespread protest movement against Assad’s rule in March 2011 to a multi-front war between rebels, extremists, Kurds and regime forces.

Russia declares 10-hour Aleppo ‘humanitarian pause’

President Vladimir Putin has ordered a 10-hour truce on Friday in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo, the Russian defence ministry said.
“A decision was made to introduce a ‘humanitarian pause’ in Aleppo on November 4 from 9:00 am (0600 GMT) to 19:00,” the chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov said in a statement on Wednesday.
Gerasimov said the decision was approved by Syrian authorities and was meant to “prevent senseless casualties” by allowing civilians and armed combatants to quit rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
He said eight corridors—six for civilians and two for fighters —could be used for this. Rebels launched a major assault on Friday to break the siege of Aleppo but have been met this week by fierce resistance from regime forces.
Aleppo has been hit by some of the worst violence in Syria’s five-year conflict, turning the once bustling economic hub into a divided and bombed-out city.
Defence ministry Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that Russia had ceased air strikes on eastern Aleppo for 16 days, following criticism over a Russian-backed Syrian government assault that has killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed infrastructure, including hospitals. The halt in bombing was initially declared ahead of a short ceasefire that ended last month. Moscow at the time ruled out a truce extension.
Shoigu accused the US-led coalition of failing to rein in hardline rebels and said that the chances of a political settlement to the crisis was now remote.
The West has accused Moscow of committing possible war crimes in Aleppo through indiscriminate bombing to support a brutal Syrian government offensive.
Moscow has been conducting a bombing campaign in Syria in support of long-time ally Bashar Al-Assad since September 2015.

Life in Douma revolves around rhythm of bombs 

Douma / AFP

Where you sleep. Whether your children go to school. When you can shop. The rhythm of bombardment dictates life in the besieged Syrian town of Douma, much of it spent underground.
The rebel-held town, the largest in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus with more than 100,000 residents, is surrounded and heavily shelled daily by advancing Syrian regime forces. Residents say artillery fire and air strikes by Syrian warplanes determine when they can spend time above ground.
Some essential elements of daily life in Douma have completely shifted to below the surface—with basements turned into schools and playgrounds, and even subterranean bakeries and makeshift clinics.
On days when skies are clear, Douma’s residents live as normal a life as they can: gaggles of children walk to school across bombed-out streets and vegetable sellers peddle their goods in the open-air markets.
But once shelling begins, families are forced to take refuge in bomb shelters, hiding out there overnight and into the early morning if the bombing does not stop.

‘No other place to hide’
Abu Omar’s makeshift one-room shelter is about four metres (yards) deep, its dirt walls lit by a single fluorescent bulb and lined with rugs and household items.
On mornings when the booms of air strikes can be heard, his nephews and nieces clamber down the rickety wooden ladder into the shelter instead of going to school.
They spend up to four hours there daily, doing schoolwork in lined notepads or making up games to play together. “We dug for about 15 days to make this shelter because there’s no other place for us to hide from the shelling,” a gaunt Abu Omar told AFP.
Thick floral carpets line the floor, where Abu Omar sets out a precious set of gold-rimmed cups for Arabic coffee. “We go to school, but these last few days we haven’t been able to because of the shelling,” said Abu Omar’s nephew Mohammad.

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