‘Moderate opposition’ involved in ongoing attacks on civilians in Aleppo – Syrian FM to UN

Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front carry their weapons as they walk near al-Zahra village, north of Aleppo city. File photo. © Hosam Katan
The West’s “moderate” opposition is shelling residential areas in Aleppo, Syria alongside Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front, a letter sent to the UN by Damascus says. Moscow reports 2,000 terrorists and “moderates” are now attacking the city’s Kurdish district.

In the letter, which was addressed to the UN Secretary General and the Head of the UN Security Council, the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry complained about ongoing attacks on safe neighborhoods in Aleppo, accusing some “moderate” opposition groups of cooperating and coordinating with Al-Nusra and its affiliates in conducting them, state-run SANA news agency reports, citing the document.

The ministry also accused some regional powers, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, of “sponsoring terrorists” and attempting to derail the peace negotiations in Geneva.

UPDATE: Al-Nusra militants have ramped up shelling of Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood, which is said to be controlled by Kurdish forces.

Over two thousand militants are taking part in an attack in and around Sheikh Maqsood, and rebel groups belonging to the so-called “moderate opposition” are part of the forces amassing in that area, a spokesman for the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides told TASS.

“Over two thousand militants of various terrorist groups and of the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ have gathered in the area of Sheikh Maqsood,” the spokesman said.

“As night fell, terrorist groups intensified shelling from the area of Castello mall, previously under control of the “moderate opposition,” he added.

The militants are using armored vehicles and heavy machine guns in their assault.

Meanwhile, Al-Nusra terrorists backed by Ahrar-al-Sham fighters shelled Aleppo’s southwestern Ansar sector with mortars and artillery, an update on the center’s website says.

© Abdalrhman Ismai

Massive indiscriminate shelling of Aleppo, which has killed more than 100 civilians, including 40 children, while injuring hundreds more, is just “part of a series of systematic terrorist acts plotted and prepared by the Turkish regime and perpetrated by the ‘moderate opposition’ groups in cooperation and coordination with Jabhat al-Nusra and its affiliates such as Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, and Jaish al-Fatah, among others,” the Syrian ministry’s letter reads.

The document also stresses that these attacks are part of “blatant attempts by the regime of Erdogan and the other regimes supporting and sponsoring terrorism in Riyadh and Doha to undermine the efforts seeking to stop the bloodshed and to foil the Geneva talks and the truce arrangements.”

Damascus demanded that the UN Security Council “assume its responsibilities in preserving international peace and security” and take “immediate” punitive measures against countries supporting and sponsoring terrorist groups, particularly Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar.

The ministry also accused some member states on the UN Security Council of applying double standards to the fight against terrorism and not being genuinely committed to it.

According to the letter, these accusations were provoked by the refusal of the US, France, the UK, and Ukraine to designate Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham as terrorist organizations and add them to the relevant list.

Damascus also stressed that, by turning a “blind eye to the Turkish regime’s opening of its border to let thousands of terrorists, all types of weapons, and even some Turkish soldiers, into northern Aleppo,” some states are encouraging the terrorists to commit massacres in Aleppo and violate the ceasefire regime.

This is not the first letter that the Syrian Foreign Ministry has sent to the UN complaining about terrorist attacks targeting civilians and accusing Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey of aiding terrorist groups. Letters were sent by the ministry in February and June of 2015 to denounce attacks in Aleppo and Damascus, as well as Turkey’s transgressions on Syrian territory.

In the meantime, terrorist shellings of Syrian cities have resulted in the death of more than 270 civilians within the last 24 hours, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. Al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham have conducted joint attacks in the Kurdish-controlled Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood in the northern part of Aleppo, destroying a local police headquarters and killing more than 40 people.

According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the terrorists were able to launch these attacks because Al-Nusra has not been targeted by airstrikes, as it shares territory with the so-called “moderate opposition.” As a result of this shielding, the terrorist group has managed to regroup and launch further attacks.

The Russian ministry also stressed that, at the same time, the Syrian army had been attacked from territory supposedly under control of the “moderate” opposition.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that the US has asked Russia not to target Al-Nusra Front precisely because the terrorist group is sharing territory with some “moderate” opposition groups that might also potentially be hit in airstrikes.