10 December 2016

Aleppo bombing will continue until rebels leave, Russia says

Kareem Shaheen in Istanbul

Statement comes one day after Moscow said Syrian military would pause its strikes to allow civilians to leave city

Turkey, a stalwart backer of the rebels, accused the Assad regime on Thursday of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity but said it was involved in negotiations with Russia over a possible ceasefire.

“The developments in Aleppo are of serious concern for all of us,” said Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “The regime continues to openly commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. We call for an end to the clashes and the delivery of humanitarian aid. We continue our diplomatic efforts for Aleppo.”

Turkey’s previous silence over the escalating assault has been seen by observers as a sign of an understanding with Russia – that its aim is no longer the overthrow of Assad but the creation of a buffer zone in northern Syria to limit Kurdish ambitions for an autonomous region and to put an end to Islamic State attacks in Turkey’s interior.

Meanwhile, the opposition claimed chlorine gas had been deployed on one of its neighbourhoods, al-Kallaseh, on Thursday afternoon.

“To everyone who is able to help, to all governments, journalists, civil society organisations, Aleppo is dying,” said Abu Jaafar, a forensic medicine doctor in east Aleppo, in an audio message. “There are massacres everywhere. They are killing everyone. Stop the massacres targeting what is left of people and stones. I urge you to use all of your power to save whoever is left. We are done here. This may be my last call.”