PHOTO: A bloodied woman stumbles through wreckage in Idlib city after Russian airstrikes on Sunday



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    UPDATE 1820 GMT: Amid an article in The Guardian which complements the points made on EA — Russian airstrikes are having limited significance in propelling an advance by regime forces on the ground, but are causing hundreds of civilian casualties — is this quote from a doctor in an Idlib hospital:

    Where are these reasonable Russians that [US Secretary of State John] Kerry claims are starting to see the light? Bashar’s [President Assad’s] jets never bombed us like the Russians do. ISIS [the Islamic State] never hunted us down like this.

    The article also has testimony about forced conscription in Damascus, with one resident talking of a campaign that started in October, scanning the IDs of young men at roving and fixed checkpoints:

    If they are wanted for the reserves they immediately take them without question. No “go home first and get your clothes”, even.

    Another man from Damascus said four of his friends, who had not completed reserves training, were taken from their homes to an army base in the city last week. “There are trucks driving around with loudspeakers ordering men and boys to join,” he said.

    ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russian warplanes carried out another mass killing in Syria on Sunday, taking the confirmed death toll of civilians from their attacks to more than 1,000.

    More than 50 people died and more than 170 people were injured in Idlib city yesterday by at least five airstrikes, including attacks leveling the main courthouse.

    Idlib’s director of water and sanitary engineering and a White Helmets ambulanceman were among the dead. Videos and pictures showed children being removed from the remains of buildings, and bloodied civilians sitting dazed.

    A first-hand report by Bilal Abdul Kareem of On the Ground News of the immediate aftermath (Warning — Graphic Images):

    Kareem emphasizes, “This was a courthouse, not a military installation. We’re still trying to pull people out of the rubble.”

    The opposition Syrian National Coalition issued a statement noting that the Russian attacks violated UN Security Council Resolution 2254, passed unanimously on Friday, which demanded that “all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment”.

    State news agency SANA ignored the airstrikes. However, the pro-regime site al-Masdar News tried to justify the attacks by asserting, without evidence, that more than “40 Islamist rebels” were killed before the courthouse was “completely destroyed”. It said the former Idlib Air Force Intelligence headquarters was also hit.

    The site dismissed any report of civilian casualties as false.

    Rescue of a boy from rubble:

    The Local Coordination Committees confirmed 111 deaths across Syria on Sunday, including 57 in Idlib, 32 in Aleppo Province, and 12 near Damascus.

    Since the aerial campaign began on September 30, more than 80% of Russia’s bombing has been on opposition-held territory. Many of the attacks have been on Idlib, Hama, Homs, and Aleppo Provinces in the northwest; however, the warplanes have also struck in the south, including near the capital Damascus.

    Sunday’s assault across Idlib Province came as foreign-led regime forces were pursuing an offensive in neighboring Aleppo Province. Iranian, Iraqi, and Hezbollah troops tried to seize Khan Touman, a main objective on the Aleppo-to-Damascus highway and the border of Idlib.

    Pro-regime outlets claimed the capture of the town, but pro-opposition accounts said scores of the attackers had been killed or seized. On Sunday night, fighting appeared to be ongoing.

    Hezbollah Leader Vows Retaliation for Israel’s Killing of Top Member Inside Syria

    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has vowed retaliation for Israeli’s killing of a prominent member, Samir Kantar, in southern Damascus on Saturday.

    Speaking hours after Kantar’s funeral in the Lebanese capital Beirut, Nasrallah said:

    Samir is one of us and a commander of our resistance and it is our right to retaliate for his assassination in the place, time and a way we see appropriate. We will exercise this right God willing.

    Kantar was killed with eight other people, including a Syrian commander, when two Israeli jets fired four long-range missiles at a building in the Jaramana section of Damascus.

    Hezbollah members gather around the coffin of Hezbollah militant leader Samir Qantar during his funeral in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon December 21, 2015.  REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

    (Reuters Photo)