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Russia unleashed a new set of air attacks across Syria on Friday, using long-range bombers and cruise missiles as jet fighters.

There were assaults on opposition-held areas in Idlib, Aleppo, and Hama Provinces and on Islamic State-controlled part of Deir ez-Zor Province. One opposition journalists noted that the cruise missiles flew east from Russian warships in the Mediterranean, but also crossed west, apparently from the Caspian Sea.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu later said that the Caspian group had fired “18 cruise missiles at seven targets in the Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo Provinces”. He asserted that one strike had “killed over 600 terrorists in the Deir ez-Zor Province”.

Russia used cruise missiles on one previous occasion, a week after the start of its airstrikes on September 30. Moscow introduced long-range bombers in its attacks earlier this week.

Video on Friday showed Moscow’s coordination with Tehran of operations, with Iranian F-14 fighters escorting a Russian Tu-95 bomber.

The Local Coordination Committees confirmed 83 deaths, including 16 children and 13 women. There were 32 in Deir ez-Zor, 12 in Idlib, 8 in Idlib, and 5 in Hama. Another 14 people were slain near Damascus, where the regime has been bombarding opposition-held suburbs.

The LCC said at least 22 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in Russian airstrikes on Zabari, a subur of Deir ez-Zor city in eastern Syria.

Men carry a casualty in Ariha in Idlib Province:


Russia has carried attacks on thousands of targets since September 30. More than 80% of the strikes have been on opposition-held territory, many of them in support of six offensives — five of them against rebels — by the Syrian military.

The strikes have hit infrastructure such as hospitals and killed hundreds of civilians.

An attack by an Su-31 fighter:

Lebanon Divert Flights After Russia Calls for Closure of Air Space

Lebanon put passenger flights on longer routes on Friday after Russia called for closure of airspace over the eastern Mediterranean.

Transport and Public Works Minister Ghazi Zoaiter said Moscow “asked the Lebanese authorities that planes leaving Beirut airport towards the west avoid overflying an area in Mediterranean territorial waters because of maneuvers on Saturday, Sunday and Monday”.

Zoaiter said Lebanese authorities had “reservations about the Russian request” and were “studying it”; however, officials later confirmed that flights would be diverted.

Middle East Airlines, Lebanon’s national carrier, lsaid “all of Saturday’s flights will take off on time but some flights to the Arab Gulf countries and the Middle East will spend more time in the air due to the new air routes”.

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry said Beirut had “not received any official request…from Moscow. It was the Lebanese air traffic control that received a fax from the Russian navy.”

Prominent Druze leader Walid Jumblatt denounced the Russian “orders”: “We do not want to become another Moscow neighborhood and there should be respect for Lebanese sovereignty.”

Video: Helicopter Barrel-Bombing of Darayya Near Damascus

A helicopter drops four barrel bombs on Darayya, southwest of Damascus:

Regime forces have besieged and attacked Darayya for years, hoping to break the opposition hold on the suburb.

Video: Kafranbel’s Message to Paris

The protesters of Kafranbel in northwest Syria dedicate Saturday’s rally to the Parisian victims of the Islamic State attacks of November 13:

There was also a message to the 17 countries, European Union, UN, and Arab League at the Vienna conferences on Syria:

KAFRANBEL 21-11-15

And a special note for US President Barack Obama:


Report: Turkey Warns Russia Over Bombing of Turkmen Areas

Reports are circulating of a Turkish warning to Russia over Moscow’s bombing of Turkmen areas in Latakia Province in northwestern Syria, close to the Turkish border.

Supporting Syrian military operations on the ground, Russian warplanes began striking the Turkmen villages and positions in the opposition-held Fırınlık, Acısı, and Avanlı areas on Monday.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Friday, “Bayırbucak Turkmens have been living in that region for many centuries. We condemn the attacks. No one can legitimize the attacks against the Arab and Turkmen populations in the region.”

Davutoğlu said the Russian ambassador was summoned over the attacks. Other sources said the Turkish note to the Ambassador threatened a military response if the bombing was not halted.

Tarık Sulo, the vice-chairman of the Syrian Turkmen National Movement Party, criticized media who reported that the attacks were not targeting civilians:

The severity and danger of the attacks on Turkmen Mountain can even be seen from Turkey’s Yayladağı district. If they do not believe that, we can…take them to the Turkmen Mountain region….

While previously there were two or three sorties, now this number has increased to hundreds of sorties by Russian and Assad regime airstrikes.

Claim: Greek Navy Sank Boat with 58 Refugees in Aegean Sea

Turkish officials are claiming that the Greek Coast Guard sank a boat carrying 58 refugees in the Aegean Sea on November 12.

Video shows a Greek vessel responding to a call for help off the caost of Didim. As the refugee boat pulled alongside, Greek security forces used a guide rope with a piercing object on top to blow out the stern of the raft. The Greek units then left the scene.

A Turkish Coast Guard boat arrived to take the refugees to the Didim shore.

Ankara said the commander of the Turkish Coast Guard, Commander Rear Admiral Hakan Üstem, told his Greek counterpart, Commander Athanasios Athanasopulos, “We would be very pleased if you order your team to refrain from such acts.”

At least 3,138 refugees have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The UN refugee agency says more than 640,000 people have arrived in Europe in 2015 via the route.

Opposition Leaders: “Only Assad Removal Can Save Syria and Defeat ISIS”

Four current and former leaders of the opposition Syrian National Coalition have written that President Assad’s removal is essential to save Syria and defeat the Islamic State.

Countering arguments that the challenge of ISIS means Assad must be accepted, the four men — current President Khaled Khoja and predecessors Moaz al-Khatib, Ahmad Jarba, and Hadi al-Bahra — argue in The Guardian:

Let us be clear: Assad never has been, nor will ever be, an alternative to Isis. He will never bring peace to Syria, nor will he ever be capable of taking on extremists. There is no capacity on the regime’s side to regain control and restore stability to the country.

The quartet call for international support, which they say has been lacking, of “moderate” forces in Syria. They offer backing of the current international talks in Vienna for political resolution, “if properly conducted”: “To defeat ISIS we must achieve a political transition in Syria.”

UN Resolution Calls for “Combat by All Means” Against Islamic State

The UN Security Council has unanimously approved a French proposal which authorises “combat by all means” against the Islamic State.

Immediately after the vote on Friday night, France announced that it will triple airstrikes against ISIS, including warplanes launched from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the eastern Mediterranean.

Resolution 2249 does not provide any legal basis for military action and does not invoke Chapter VII of the UN Charter, authorizing the use of force, but French diplomats maintained that it provides important international political support to attacks.

The Security Council has never voted on military action, because of the inevitable Russian veto of any measure that it sees as directed against the Assad regime.

Moscow tried to circulate an alternative to the French draft which explicitly called for cooperation with the regime against the Islamic State. After the vote, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow would persist in its effort, as the attempt by “some members of the Council” to block the Russian document was “politically shortsighted”:

It’s impossible to fight terrorists with one hand and actually play along with them with the other while being guided by opportunistic reasons. We plan to continue active work to coordinate our draft for it to be adopted as soon as possible.