PHOTO: Woman and child are led away from scene of a Russia-regime airstrike on Thursday (AP)
- Prison Protest in Hama Over Executions
- Turkish Military: We Killed 34 ISIS Fighters on Sunday
- Bodyguard of Iran’s Supreme Leader Killed on Aleppo Front?
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UPDATE 1830 GMT: In a brief session with reporters before their meeting in Geneva, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir offered significantly different positions on the crisis in Aleppo.
Prompted by a question, Kerry focused on the “separation” of rebels from the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra: “There are a number of different ways to approach it.”
Jubeir did not take the prompt to discuss the issue. Instead, he focused on the destruction and deaths and making clear the central demand of Bashar al-Assad’s departure from power:
What is happening in Aleppo is an outrage. It’s a violation of all humanitarian laws. It’s a crime. It’s a violation of all the understandings that were reached in – during the Vienna process. It’s a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. It’s a violation of the understandings reached with regard to the cessation of hostilities.
There is only one side that is flying airplanes, and that is Bashar al-Assad and his allies, so they are responsible for the massacre of women, children, and the elderly. They are responsible for the murder of doctors and medical personnel, and this situation, any way you slice it, will not stand. The world is not going to allow them to get away with this.
And as we’ve said before, Bashar al-Assad’s days are numbered. He will leave. He can leave through a political process, which we hope he will do, or he will be removed by force. A man who murdered 400,000 people, displaced 12 million, destroyed a country, has no future in that country.
UPDATE 1700 GMT: Hospitals in opposition-held parts of Syria are refusing to share GPS coordinates with Russian and Syrian authorities followed repeated attacks on medical facilities and rescue workers, including deadly attacks on three facilities in and near Aleppo in the past week.
The international organization Medical Sans Frontieres announced the decision.
Normally medical facilities give coordinates to officials to ensure that they are not hit accidentally, but Russian and Syrian warplanes have struck dozens of hospitals and clinics since Moscow began its aerial intervention on September 30.
Last Monday, five White Helmets rescuers were killed in a barrage of three to five airstrikes and a missile in Atareb, west of Aleppo city. On Wednesday, at least 55 people died and more than 80 injured by two missiles on the MSF-supported Al-Quds Hospital in east Aleppo city, and over the weekend, a medical warehouse and first-aid clinic was destroyed.
Joanne Liu, MSF International President, told reporters in Geneva:
Healthcare in Syria is in the crosshair of bombs and missiles. It has collapsed. Let me be clear: attacks on civilians and hospitals must stop. The normalisation of such attacks is intolerable.
A humanitarian official summarized the deliberate campaign to destroy the medical system:
Since 2011 during the demonstration time, medical activities that are not under their control are considered by the government of Syria as illegal and consequently as legitimate targets. This decision explains the repeated threat, arrest, torture and killing of doctors…and their direct families in addition to the systematic targeting of networks in charge of supplying underground medical activities in besieged zones.
UPDATE 1645 GMT: The city council in opposition-held Aleppo has declared a state of emergency and given statistics about the first 10 days of the Russian-regime bombing campaign.
The council said on Sunday night that it had confirmed the killing of 206 civilians and wounding of 523. Russian and regime jets carried out more than 320 airstrikes and 65 barrel-bombings, while the Syrian military fired 120 mortar shells and launched 17 ground-to-ground missiles.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia said on Sunday that talks are underway to include Aleppo in a renewed cessation of hostilities, but regime warplanes bombed opposition areas for the 11th straight day.
A Russian Defense Ministry official said discussions had begun to “establish a regime of calm also in Aleppo province”. US Secretary of State John Kerry, in Geneva on Sunday for meetings with Jordanian and Saudi counterparts, said he hoped to be able to reaffirm the cessation of hostilities after the conversations.
“These are critical hours,” Kerry said. “We look for Russia’s cooperation, and we obviously look for the regime to listen to Russia and to respond.”
The Local Coordination Committees recorded another 14 deaths in Aleppo Province yesterday. Since April 21, more than 250 civilians have been killed by Russian and regime attacks, including 55 in a missile assault on Al-Quds Hospital.
State media continued its claims of civilian deaths from rebel shelling on regime-held parts of Aleppo, saying six people died on Sunday. The SANA news agency provided no evidence for the assertion in a brief item on its English-language site.
The rebel bloc Jaish al-Fateh issued a video statement on Sunday denying any responsibility for shelling and blaming the Syrian military for the attacks to falsely blame the opposition.
Last Friday, the Assad regime declared a brief “regime of silence” in Latakia Province on the Mediterranean and in the East Ghouta area near Damascus, but excluded Aleppo from the truce. Russia and US issued supported statements of support. Washington said it would pursue discussions to include Aleppo, with Kerry expressing “deep concern” on Saturday about the ongoing airstrikes.
Meanwhile, the Syrian military quickly resumed operations in East Ghouta, even though the Assad regime and the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that the truce had been extended for 24 hours.
Pro-regime outlets claimed last night that the village of al-Rukabiyah had been captured, threatening the encirclement of opposition-held areas of East Ghouta.
Prison Protest in Hama Over Executions
Dozens of detainees in Hama Prison protested on Monday after inmates were sent to Sednaya Prison near Damascus to be executed.
A claimed video showed the detainees shouting, “Death Over Humiliation” and “Only to God We Shall Kneel”.
Security personnel reportedly used tear gas and brought in reinforcements to disperse the men.
Prisoners trying to knock down the central gate:
— ۞Logical⚔Liberator۞ (@ShamiRebel) May 2, 2016
Turkish Military: We Killed 34 ISIS Fighters on Sunday
The Turkish military claims that it killed 34 Islamic State fighters in cross-border drone and artillery attacks on Sunday.
Turkish forces were responding to the latest ISIS rockets on Kilis Province in southeast Turkey, where 18 people have died from the Islamic State’s shelling from inside northern Syria. Over the weekend, two residents were injured by rockets on the town of Kilis.
The military statement said six vehicles and five Islamic State gun positions were destroyed by howitzers, multiple-rocket launches, and four drone from the Incirlik base in southern Turkey.
Bodyguard of Iran’s Supreme Leader Killed on Aleppo Front?
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have confirmed that a high-ranking officer, who served as a bodyguard for the Supreme Leader, has been killed.
However, the Guards did not confirm last week’s reports that Hassan Akbari died on the battlefront south of Aleppo city.
Instead, Sepah News said Akbari died because of “weapon malfunction during a training mission”.
Akbari will be buried on Monday morning in southern Tehran.
Syrian opposition sources claim that the officer was killed while visiting the south Aleppo front to prepare a report about the fighting for the Supreme Leader.
Akbari with the head of Iran’s armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, and the Supreme Leader: