Syria Thwarts Offensive in Aleppo Suburbs

Syria Thwarts Offensive in Aleppo SuburbsSyria Thwarts Offensive in Aleppo Suburbs

A Syrian military source said the army had thwarted what he called “an extensive attack” on the Aleppo’s southwestern suburbs.

The offensive is aimed at weakening the government’s siege of the opposition-held enclave in the divided city. Government forces had intensified their own attempt to capture militant-held areas in recent weeks, DPA reported.

During talks with his Russian and Iranian counterparts in Moscow on Friday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem vowed that government troops would not lose control of the city.

“We will not reduce our forces in the fight against terrorism. We will liberate Aleppo from terrorists and unify the city,” al-Moallem said, according to the Interfax news agency.

He added that the government was willing to observe a new ceasefire for Aleppo if foreign powers backing the militants, including the US, Turkey and Persian Gulf states, could guarantee that the opportunity would be used to allow civilians to flee the city.

Moscow, which provides air support to Syria’s Army, has suspended airstrikes on Aleppo for a number of days.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Friday sought permission from President Vladimir Putin to restart the campaign, citing an upsurge in militant activity, but the president denied the request saying it was “not the right time” to resume airstrikes in Aleppo.

At Friday’s three-way meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the countries had agreed to intensify the fight against terrorism in Syria, as well as to increase efforts to improve civilians’ access to aid.  The definition of which groups qualify as terrorists, however, has long divided Moscow and Washington, which supports some militant groups in Syria.

Once Syria’s commercial hub, Aleppo has been divided mainly into the government-controlled west and militant-held east since fighting erupted in mid-2012.

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