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18 Sep, 2016 21:09

Syrian ceasefire observed only by govt, militants prepare for offensive in Aleppo – Russian military

The ceasefire in Syria is only being observed by government troops, while militants are using the truce to prepare a large-scale offensive in Aleppo under the passive eye of the US, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

"During the sixth day of the ceasefire ... only the Syrian government troops have been actually observing the moratorium on combat operations,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said.

Konashenkov criticized Washington once more for its unwillingness to force Syrian opposition groups that it has influence over to adhere to the terms of the ceasefire.

“All our requests to the US side to provide contacts of 'moderate oppositionists' or to influence them have been to no avail. On the contrary, the ... shelling of the Syrian government troops' positions ... is only growing," he said.

The Americans have also failed to separate the ‘moderate’ opposition from terrorists as was agreed under the terms of the Syrian ceasefire, brokered by Moscow and Washington on September 9, the spokesman said.

“After a week of ceasefire, it has become clear that the US side has neither influence nor even contacts with 'moderate oppositionists' acting on the ground in Syria rather than in western capitals,” he added.

According to Konashenkov, the most difficult situation is currently in Aleppo. "Militants are using the ceasefire to lick wounds, recuperate and prepare for resumption of combat operations," he said.

The jihadists are “pulling manpower and weapons in the areas they control, both during the day and at night,” capitalizing on the fact “that the government troops aren’t opening retaliatory fire,” he said.

Objective control tools, other reconnaissance channels and accounts from civilians indicated the movement of fighters and a concentration of armored vehicles and cars in the eastern part of Aleppo and in the city’s suburbs.

"Such facts only prove our apprehension of regrouping of terrorist groups and their preparing large-scale combat operations," Konashenkov said.

READ MORE: 'Take a trip to Syria to see what “embarrassed” means’: Russia’s Zakharova to US' Power

50 violations of the ceasefire agreement were registered in Syria’s provinces of Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Latakia, Homs and Daraa the last 24 hours, he added.

Syrian president, Bashar Assad’s political and media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban, confirmed to RT that militants are taking advantage of the ceasefire.

“Unfortunately, the terrorists regroup and rearm with every truce and with every cancellation of hostilities. And that’s because the US is hesitant to strike at the terrorists in Syria,” she told RT.

The ceasefire in Syria was agreed during talks on September 9 as the sides agreed to influence the Syrian government and the so-called moderate rebel forces respectively in order to end hostilities.

Since then, Moscow has repeatedly complained that Washington is failing to keep its part of the bargain. The US, on its part, has blamed Russia for not pressuring Damascus enough to facilitate humanitarian access to Syria.

But the ceasefire was put at risk by the bombing of Syrian government forces by US-led coalition warplanes on Saturday. Some 62 soldiers were killed and 100 more wounded.

Shaaban said it’s difficult to believe the US explanations, saying that “it would be very strange if a country like the US, which is supposed to be a No.1 in military power in the world, makes such a mistake.”

“The Syrian army was over few hills and the American strikes… came over all these hills and the moment the American planes struck the Syrian army the terrorist came from the same side,” she said.

According to Assad’s adviser, it was “obvious to everyone in the field that there was an obvious coordination between the American planes and the terrorists.”

She also pointed out the fact that the American planes stopped shelling the area where the Syrian army was as soon as it was occupied by Islamic State militants.