Syrian Army Advances Near Aleppo

Syrian Army Advances Near Aleppo
Syrian Army Advances Near Aleppo

Syrian troops made advances on Saturday in their offensive to retake territory around the northern city of Aleppo from militants, a monitoring group said.

The campaign around Aleppo, which the army launched on Friday, is one of several assaults it has waged against militant fighters since Russian jets began carrying out airstrikes on Sept. 30, Reuters reported.

It has concentrated so far on clearing militant areas south of Aleppo rather than the city itself, which is home to two million people and divided between government forces and militants.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army and its allies retook three villages amid fierce fighting in which at least 17 extremist fighters were killed.

Troops are also trying to advance to the east of Aleppo toward Kweires military airport, aiming to break a siege on the base by Islamic State and other insurgents, the UK-based Observatory said.

Al-Manar television said the army had captured the village of Huwaija, on the way to Kweires. The Observatory said t the army was advancing in Huwaija, one of several villages where heavy fighting was continuing.

The army and its allies have also been fighting to retake parts of the northern provinces of Hama, Idlib and Latakia seized by militants in recent months, as well as insurgent areas north of Homs city, around the capital Damascus, and in the southern province of Deraa near the Jordanian border.

  Weak, Shortsighted

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has blamed the US President Barack Obama administration for its failure to make progress in talks between the US and Russia on coordinating airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, RT reports.

Speaking to the Rossiya 1 TV station, Medvedev said he was perplexed at the reasons behind the US not wanting to agree to President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to work with Washington to drive Islamic State out of Syria.

“The issue is that our American colleagues always tell us that it is necessary to solve the problem in a single package,” Medvedev said.

“It is necessary to come to a conclusion about the future of Syria; it is necessary to talk about the destiny of President Assad, to come to a political settlement. We are not against it, so we came up with the idea of a political delegation.”

Medvedev says that the US had shown “weakness” in refusing to commit to bilateral talks, adding that IS continues to spread and “only Russia’s involvement has changed the situation.”

“They say: ‘No, we will not hold talks’. This position is shortsighted and weak because strong leaders and states which take responsibility, hold talks on these occasions, even if they give different assessments of the situation,” the PM added.

  Turkey Warns

Turkey would not hesitate to shoot down planes violating its airspace, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday, a day after the NATO member shot down an unidentified drone near its border with Syria.

Turkey had already complained of Russian warplanes violating its airspace along the border with Syria earlier this month.

“We downed a drone yesterday. If it was a plane, we’d do the same. Our rules of engagement are known. Whoever violates our borders, we will give them the necessary answer,” Davutoglu told a rally of his ruling AK Party in the central city of Kayseri.

Turkey is still investigating where the drone came from.