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France presses Russian Federation over Syria as more die in besieged rebel area

12 February 2018

President Bashar al-Assad's army, which has seized a clear advantage in the war with Russian and Iranian help, is bombarding two of the last key rebel areas of Syria - Eastern Ghouta near Damascus and Idlib in the northwest near the Turkish border.

The deadliest strikes hit a market in the town of Erbin and killed 21 civilians including nine children.

Violence also flared in eastern Syria on Thursday, where the United States-led coalition said it had killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters to fend off an attack on its Kurdish allies.

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U.S. -Turkish tensions spiked after Turkey last month embarked on an offensive called "Olive Branch" against Kurdish forces in Afrin, a region in northern Syria. Washington has refused to step back from its indirect support for the PKK or to create buffer zones in northern Syria. How can they justify killing 237 civilians and injuring over 1,250 civilians in the past 4 days?

The U.S. said Russian Federation must use its influence over Bashar al-Assad's forces to ensure Syria immediately allows United Nations aid to reach vulnerable civilians. Six were killed. Four medical staff and four Syrian Civil Defense paramedics (White Helmets) were injured along with several others that were on premises at the time of the attack. It added that the group's partners say 45 schools in eastern Ghouta have been attacked this year, with 11 destroyed. A Western intelligence agency told the BBC previous year that three branches of the SSRC, including the one at Jamraya, were being used to produce chemical munitions in violation of a deal that saw Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad agree to destroy his chemical arsenal after a 2013 deadly Sarin attack against civilians in Damascus. However, Anadolu Agency earlier reported that the helicopter crashed in the southern Turkish province of Hatay. US -backed Kurdish-led forces have been fighting for control of Deir el-Zour with rival Russian-backed Syrian troops that are reinforced by Iranian-supported militias. The U.S. military said late Wednesday it launched airstrikes on Syrian government-backed troops after as many as 500 attackers began what appeared to be a coordinated assault on the SDF accompanied by U.S. advisers in Deir el-Zour province. The media cited reports of dozens killed and wounded.

SANA called it an "aggression".

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Unconfirmed Turkish media reports had said that Turkey halted flights after Russia closed the airspace over Afrin after militants shot down a Russian Su-25 fighter jet in northern Idlib province on February 3. It added that 60,000 people have fled their homes leading to a humanitarian crisis, and called on global aid organizations to help people in Afrin.

Turkish officials say the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran will meet in Istanbul to discuss peace efforts for Syria.

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