Russia on verge of casting 12th veto since Syrian uprising began in March 2011
The UN Security Council is considering a demand for a 30-day ceasefire to stop attacks on Syria’s civilians and allow the delivery of aid, but Russia is likely to veto any resolution.
Russia, an essential backer of the Assad regime, has been carrying out airstrikes alongside pro-Assad assaults that have killed and wounded hundreds of civilians this week in Idlib Province in northwest Syria and in the East Ghouta area near Damascus.
A resolution, drafted by Sweden and Kuwait, was circulated to the Council on Friday. It needs nine votes — without a veto by Russia, China, the US, Britain, or France — for adoption.
The draft text “calls upon all parties to immediately lift the sieges of populated areas”, including in East Ghouta, Yarmouk in southern Damascus, and the regime enclaves of al-Fu’ah and Kafraya in Idlib Province.
The Assad regime has blocked all deliveries of assistance since last summer into East Ghouta, where almost 400,000 residents are threatened with death from lack of food and medicine, except for a token convoy at the start of December.
Russia has cast 11 vetoes in the Security Council against action over the Assad regime in Syria’s 83-month conflict. since the civil war began in 2011, shielding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Claims: Pro-Assad Forces Allow ISIS Into Idlib to Fight Rebels
As Russia and the regime continued their assault in northwest Syria and near Damascus, claims circulated on Friday that regime forces are allowing Islamic State fighters through their lines to attack rebels in Idlib Province.
The Assad regime’s military declared in late January that it was launching an offensive against an ISIS pocket in northeast Hama Province, and soon announced that it was eliminating the Islamic State’s last positions.
But rebels and pro-opposition activist said Friday that the ISIS fighters had moved through a regime-held corridor to enter southern Idlib, with their attacks complementing the pro-Assad offensive which has advanced in the southeast of the province.
Hasan Haj Ali, a commander of the Free Idlib Army, said his troops are facing about 200 Islamic State fighters: “This morning [Friday] at dawn we were surprised by the joint treachery by the regime and Daesh.
He said there were clashes in the village of Lweibdeh, with ISIS equipped with six armored vehicles.
A source in the Ahrar al-Sham faction echoed the claim, “The rebel factions are repelling Daesh attempts to advance. The regime’s militias opened a gap helping the besieged Islamic State forces pass.”
A pro-Assad commander maintained that there was no collusion, although Islamic State units were allowed to depart Hama without being attacked: “The pocket is finished. A crossing was opened till they exited, and then it was closed.”
A pro-Assad outlet framed the ISIS movement in a different way, proclaiming it as “a desperate break-out assault” by hundreds of ISIS fighters against the pro-Assad advance in northeast Hama. It asserted that “dozens” of pro-Assad troops had been killed.
The regime military’s General Command did not mention any ISIS counter-attack in its statement
Kurdish Militia Down Turkish Helicopter in/near Afrin Canton
Kurdish-led forces downed a Turkish helicopter in the west of the Kurdish canton Afrin in northwest Syria on Saturday,
A spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Kurdish militia YPG, said the helicopter was shot down in the Rajo district.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed the incident, but he and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said the helicopter was shot down in Hatay Province on the Turkish side of the border.
Erdoğan said two Turkish troops were killed.
The Turkish-rebel offensive, launched into Afrin on January 18, has taken the high ground around the town of Rajo.
Claimed video of the downing of the helicopter:
— MENA Observer (@middleeastwars) February 10, 2018