PHOTO: A man flees with a child near a church damaged by Russian bombing in Jisr al-Shughour in northwest Syria


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UPDATE 1950 GMT: Turkish armed forces have shelled Islamic State positions in northern Syria.

Turkish artillery in Kilis Province in southern Turkey fired between 50 and 60 shells in an hour during the afternoon.


UPDATE 1450 GMT: Aid workers have made the first delivery of humanitarian assistance since the start of the ceasefire, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said.

The Red Crescent said 10 trucks of aid, including blankets and hygiene supplies, entered the besieged opposition-held town of Moadamiya, southwest of Damascus.

The delivery is the third this month to Moadamiya, which has been cut off by the Syrian military since late 2012 and where scores have died of starvation. In recent months, regime forces have escalated bombardment of the town, while continuing to block food and supplies.


UPDATE 1445 GMT: This appears to be Moscow’s rationalization of its continuing airstrikes on opposition-held territory, delivered by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov:

We are now at a stage where many in the international community are aware that all Moscow’s actions, including the start and the conducting of an anti-terrorism and military operation by the Russian air force, was in fact intended to create the conditions for the normalization of that country, to crush the terrorist threat and the create the conditions for that country to start a political process, the owners of which would be the Syrians themselves, without attempts to dictate any kind of plans from the outside.

Ryabkov was clearer in expressing support for President Assad:

Russia, as we know, has sought to launch a political process since 2012, despite efforts to derail our attempts. We regret that Washington time and time again has signaled that there is no place for the current President of Syria. We think that this place should be decided by the Syrian people themselves.

He also indicated, without further details, that Syria could become a “federal state”.


UPDATE 1435 GMT: As Russian and regime aircraft bomb parts of western Aleppo Province, Kurdish and opposition outlets are writing of a build-up of regime forces near the Kurdish canton of Afrin.

The Kurdish site ARA News wrote on Monday, “Regime forces and the militias supporting them continued to mobilize [in] large numbers…on a number of fronts in western Aleppo countryside…in a bid to resume their assault on positions held by the armed opposition.”

Throughout February, Kurdish units have taken opposition-held territory in western Aleppo Province as a nearby foreign-led regime offensive, enabled by Russian airstrikes, has pushed back rebels.

Saleh al-Zain, a rebel commander in northern Aleppo Province said, “Regime forces and groups of militants from the villages of Nubl and Zahraa are mobilizing large numbers of fighters on the outskirts of the villages of Bashemra, Fafertayn, Birad and Kiymar with the aim of storming western Aleppo countryside and cutting the Ma’aret al-Artiq-Babis road, as well as the Hawr-Yaqed al-Adas road in the direction of Qubtan al-Jabal.”

Russian and regime airstrikes were reported last weekend on villages such as Daarat Izza and Qubtan al-Jabal, near a highway into Aleppo city, despite the start of the ceasefire.


UPDATE 1425 GMT: The International Syria Support Group is meeting in Geneva to review the state of the cessation of hostilities.

Before the 3 p.m. (1400 GMT) meeting, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters:

We have received indications that attacks, including by air, have been continuing against zones controlled by the moderate opposition.

All this needs to be verified. France has therefore demanded that the task force charged with overseeing the cessation of hostilities meet without delay.

An unnamed Western diplomat said, “We need to get an explanation from the Russians on the strikes that took place on Sunday.”


UPDATE 1355 GMT: The Foreign Ministry has hit back at Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir’s declaration that the Assad regime and Russia have been targeting “moderate opposition” groups.

A Ministry official told State news agency SANA that Jubeir’s statement was an “expression of the destructive role of the Wahhabi kingdom that threatens the Arab and Islamic nations”: “The worst calamity is that which makes you laugh.”

The official said Jubeir’s statements were “nothing more than an echo of what his masters in Israel and the United States say”.

The Saudi Foreign Minister had said on Sunday, “Things will become clearer in the coming days on whether the regime and Russia are serious or not about the ceasefire.”


UPDATE 0915 GMT: Assad forces are trying to break into Hirbnafsah village in northern Homs Province, supported by heavy artillery and Russian air cover, according to activists and rebels.

Syria Civil Defense counted eight Russian raids and six by regime warplanes. No casualties were reported.

Rebels claim that more than 300 shells have been fired into the village since the weekend. They said ground attacks were repelled on Sunday.

Attacks also continue near Jisr al-Shughour in Idlib Province, this one a regime barrel-bombing of the village of Maarant:


UPDATE 0715 GMT: Unconfirmed reports are circulating of regime rockets, barrel bombs, and artillery fire on al-Marj in the East Ghouta area near Damascus.

Activists says the al-Marj hospital, serving 55,000 people, has been knocked out of service by barrel-bombing.

Regime forces have attacked nearby Bala, and canisters with “toxic gases” have been dropped on Erbin, according to the reports.

Two Free Syrian Army troops have been killed in the Erbin attack.


While holding in some parts of the country, Syria’s cessation of hostilities was challenged on Sunday by Assad regime and Russian attacks.

The opposition-rebel High Negotiations Committee claimed, in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, 26 airstrikes and “24 violations with artillery shelling and five ground operations…in 26 areas held by the moderate opposition”.

The head of the HNC, Riad Hijab, emphasized, “Under such circumstances, negotiations will not be feasible.”

Videos testified to deadly Russian attacks on Jisr al-Shughour in Idlib Province, near towns in western Aleppo Province, and on Talbiseh in Homs Province.

The HNC said the attacks had killed 29 people and wounded dozens. Activists reported 12 dead near Babis in western Aleppo Province and the death of a pregnant woman, with the wounding of 12 civilians including seven children, in Jisr al-Shughour.

The Local Coordination Committees confirmed the deaths of 29 people on Sunday, including 15 in Aleppo Province.

Both Russia and the Assad regime have said that attacks are permitted on the Islamic State, the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra, and “other terrorist groups” as defined by the UN. However, there was no evidence on Sunday of a presence of ISIS or Nusra in the bombed areas, let alone their targets being struck by Russia’s warplanes.

The HNC wrote on Sunday that it did not receive any maps outlining which areas were included in the ceasefire or documents explaining the monitoring mechanism.

The pro-regime Al-Watan daily said that the maps were still being “kept secret”.

The cessation, brokered by Russia and the US, began at midnight Saturday. Activists and rebels also reported some ground attacks by regime forces in Latakia Province in western Syria and near the capital Damascus.

Aftermath of the attack on Jisr al-Shughour:

Casualties being treated in Talbiseh:

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