PHOTO: Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Erdoğan, October 2016
documented 88 deaths in Syria on Friday, including 16 children and 12 women.
Of the casaulties, 51 were in Aleppo Province, most in bombing in and near Aleppo city.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have discussed the state of fighting in northern Syria, as both countries back their local allies in military operations.
The catalyst for the phone conversation was the first Assad regime attack on Turkish troops, who are supporting a rebel offensive against the Islamic State in Aleppo Province. Thursday’s airstrike, the first by the Syrian military on Turkish forces, killed three soldiers and injured 10.
The Turkish-rebel offensive is closing on the town of al-Bab, ISIS’s main position in the province. However, both pro-Assad forces and the Kurdish militia YPG are also close to the town, northeast of Aleppo city.
Meanwhile, Russia and the Assad regime are trying to break resistance in opposition-held eastern Aleppo city, re-imposing a siege in late August and killing more than 1,000 people in bombing and shelling since September 19.
Shortly before cutting off eastern Aleppo, Erdoğan met Putin in Moscow in a further easing of tension, following last November’s downing of a Russian warplane by Ankara’s jets near the Turkish-Syrian border.
Some observers speculated at the time that a deal was struck in which Turkey accepted the Russian-regime assault on Aleppo city, while Moscow agreed to Turkey’s intervention alongside rebels across northern Aleppo Province.
According to the Turkish Presidency, Erdoğan told Putin that Turkey respected Syria’s territorial integrity and that its military operations were directed against ISIS.
The Turkish sources said the two leaders agreed to try to resolve the humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo city.
Russia and the Assad regime have cut off any aid effort to the area. After a Russian-regime bombing of a convoy on September 19, the UN halted attempts to deliver food and supplies, and the Assad regime refused all requests for access. The last rations were distributed two weeks ago.
Rebels agreed this week to a UN plan for aid and medical evacuations, but the Assad regime has not responded.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that it did not have any information on the Syrian opposition’s readiness to accept the UN plan.
The Kremlin said the Erdoğan-Putin discussion on Friday was “constructive”, with an agreement to continue dialogue to coordinate efforts against “international terrorism”.
UN Resumes Aid to 85,000+ Trapped Syrians Near Jordan Border
The UN has resumed aid deliveries to more than 85,000 displaced people near the Syrian-Jordanian border.
UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac said Friday that more than 250 winter kits were delivered, with sweaters, trousers, jackets, socks, and boots for children under a year old.
Apart from water, UN aid to the makeshift Rukban camp has been suspended since June, after a car bomb attack killed seven Jordanian border guards.
The displaced Syrians been lived in the desert camp between two parallel earthen barriers, after Jordan sealed the border at the end of 2015.
Running Out of Food in Eastern Aleppo
Reuters offers a snapshot of the increasingly desperate food situation in besieged eastern Aleppo city:
A pack of four bread loaves now costs the equivalent of about $3 – at least five times higher than it was before the siege began in July. The city council offers limited quantities at a subsidized price. A kilo of meat costs $50, a kilo of sugar costs $18, both also several times higher than before the siege.
Rice, which is more readily available and has not risen as much, costs $3 a kilo.
“My wife is using boiled rice to feed our 11-month old baby. We can barely get one bottle of powdered milk a month,” said Abdullah Hanbali, who worked as an engineer before the war.
“People are not accustomed to just eating bread and a bit of rice. They are used to eating apples, cucumbers, lemons, butter, meat,” he said. “The weather is cold. You need nutrition.”
Residents say once-bustling markets are now devoid of shoppers. The few stalls with food to sell offer legumes, radishes, parsley, and other crops grown within the confines of the besieged area.
Russian-Regime Bombing of Women’s Hospital in Idlib Province
In the latest Russian-regime bombing of medical facilities, a women’s hospital in Idlib Province in northwest Syria has been hit by airstrikes.
Three people were killed when four rockets struck the hospital, said Asaad al-Halabi, the advocacy manager at Shafak, the Syrian aid group that runs the facility.
The strikes collapsed the eastern side of the building, damaged the emergency and operating rooms, and destroyed an ambulance.
Russia and the Assad regime have destroyed scores of medical facilities, especially across northwest Syria. In many areas, there is little or no care available.