PHOTO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — “US plan to keep Jabhat al-Nusra for Plan B”
UPDATE 1030 GMT: Regime warplanes have barrel-bombed the M10 hospital in opposition-held Aleppo, three days after it was knocked out of service.
On Thursday, two of east Aleppo’s remaining hospitals were struck, leaving only six functioning medical facilities in the region and two hospitals that can carry out surgeries in the opposition districts of the city.
Treatment of injured children in one of the remaining facilities:
— SAMS (@sams_usa) September 30, 2016
ORIGINAL ENTRY: On the political defensive amid the Russian-regime bombing of Syria’s largest city Aleppo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has lashed out at the US, accusing it of protecting Syrian jihadists and Al Qa’eda.
Lavrov said the US had failed to separate Syrian rebels from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, the group which — as Jabhat al-Nusra — formally paid allegiance to Al Qa’eda until late July: “We have more and more reasons to believe that from the very beginning the plan was to spare Nusra and to keep it just in case for Plan B or stage two, when it would be time to change the regime.”
Ever since its aerial intervention last September, Russia has used the argument of rebel-Nusra interaction to justify the bombing of opposition areas, including civilian sites, which has killed thousands of people.
However, Moscow has been under pressure since it and the Syrian air force bombed a UN aid convoy west of Aleppo on September 19, hours after the Syrian military declared an end to a short-lived US-Russian ceasefire. Russian and regime warplanes then escalated airstrikes on opposition districts of Aleppo city — including incendiary weapons and bunker-buster bombs — killing between 400 and 500 people, almost of them civilians.
The Local Coordination Committee documented the killing of 86 people on Friday, including 35 in Aleppo Province and 21 near Damascus, almost all of them from airstrikes.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry threatened, in a phone call to Lavrov, to cut links with Russia if the attacks did not cease. However, Kerry and Lavrov continued telephone discussions on Thursday and Friday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov stressed Moscow’s “readiness to continue to consider additional possibilities” to “normalize” the situation in Aleppo, as Russia “remains open for dialogue with the US on all key issues” regarding Syria.
Activists: Pro-Assad Forces Attack Another Water Plant Near Aleppo
Opposition activists say pro-Assad forces have attacked another water plant near Aleppo, whose 1.75 million residents — in both regime and opposition areas — are facing a cut-off of supplies.
The activists said the forces, under cover of Russian and regime airstrikes, struck the Sulayman al-Halabi plant to the north of the city. The plant is near the al-Kindi hospital, which the Syrian military and foreign allies have been attacking this week as they try to constrict rebels inside Aleppo city.
Friday’s assault followed the pro-Assad capture of the Handarat camp, tighting the siege of opposition areas of Aleppo by cutting off territory to the north.
During the renewed Russian-regime airstrikes on Aleppo, which began September 19, the two main water plants supplying Aleppo from the south of the city have been put out of service. The UN agency UNESCO has warning of the risks from disease and poor sanitation, as well as lack of drinking water, to about 250,000 residents in opposition-held Aleppo and 1.5 million in regime districts.