Terrorists in Aleppo ‘forcefully’ enroll teens – Russian MOD

© Hosam Katan
Terrorists in Aleppo are ‘forcefully’ enrolling 14-year-old conscripts amid a lack of reinforcements in the city’s east, according to Russia’s General Staff.

During a press briefing, the chief of the main operations department of Russia’s General Staff, Sergey Rudskoy, said that terrorists in the war-ravaged city have started a new wave of mobilization, which includes teenagers.

“The leaders of militant groups continue to hide behind inexperienced fighters launching a new wave of mobilization in east Aleppo and enroll teenagers at the age of 14 years,” Rudskoy said.

He added that fighters from the UN-designated terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra forcefully enrolled around 1,000 people. The youngsters are being used to try and break the blockade of east Aleppo, staged by Syrian government forces, according to the official.

"They [terrorists] tried to break up the blockade seeking cover behind those inexperienced fighters. The youngsters mobilized against their will refuse to complete their tasks and desert en-masse, having become subject to reprisals. These actions have caused protests from parents and relatives of the enrolled teenagers."

However, according to Rudskoy any such sign of discontent has faced a brutal response from terrorists. Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city is now divided into an eastern part, held by rebel forces and terrorists, and the government-controlled areas.

Earlier in October, the UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, warned that east Aleppo is on the verge of destruction and urged al-Nusra to leave the city “in dignity.” De Mistura agreed to personally accompany terrorists willing to exit Aleppo. Russia backed the move taking it as a part of its UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution last week.

The proposal alongside the rival French resolution has been vetoed by the UNSC. Al-Nusra on its part refused to withdraw, de Mistura’s deputy, Ramzi Ezzedine Ramzi announced Thursday, saying the UN got “a negative response” from the group.

Nevertheless, Rudskoy says that any fighters still willing to leave Aleppo while laying down their arms can still do so via a special corridor established in July by the Syrian army and the Russian Reconciliation Center.

"The Syrian government guarantees safety to the armed people who decide to withdraw from eastern Aleppo with personal weapons into other areas of the country of their choice,” he said. Yet according to the General, militants are opting to attack civilians and booby trap corridors on the side of east Aleppo.

"Terrorists block the human aid delivery for the civilian population. Humanitarian corridors are booby trapped,” Rudskoy said.

On Thursday the government-controlled area in Aleppo was hit by rebel mortar shells. At least seven children fell under fire, and five of them were killed.

Rudksoy also noted that militants in East Aleppo are using civilians as “human shields,” to prevent their own casualties.

“To reduce losses commanders of the armed groups locate their command posts, warehouses and other facilities on the first floors of residential buildings. However, their residents continue to be held captive by militants inside the buildings, acting as ‘human shields.’

“These egregious facts remain without attention from western countries. They neither want to notice any crimes by the militants nor respond to them,” Rudskoy said.