Syrian rebels launch Aleppo counter-attack to break siege
BEIRUTSyrian rebels began a counter-attack against the Syrian army and its allies on Oct. 28 aiming to break a weeks-long siege on eastern Aleppo, insurgents said.
The assault, employing heavy shelling and suicide car bombs, was mainly focused on the city’s western edge by rebels based outside Aleppo. It included Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a former affiliate of al-Qaeda previously known as the Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and groups fighting under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner, Reuters reported.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said more than 15 civilians had been killed and 100 wounded by rebel shelling of government-held western Aleppo. State media reported that five civilians were killed.
There were conflicting accounts of advances in areas on the city’s outskirts.
On Oct. 28, the foreign ministers of Russia, Syria and Iran after a three-way meeting in Moscow said their countries have agreed to intensify the fight against terrorism in Syria.
Russia’s Sergei Lavrov made the statement on Oct. 28 after meeting with Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem and Iran’s Javad Zarif.
Al-Moallem said government forces could agree to another cessation of fighting around the city of Aleppo, but only if it receives guarantees from rebel forces that civilians would be allowed to leave the city.
“We are ready to again repeat this attempt after we receive guarantees that confirm that the countries supporting these terrorist organizations are prepared to act so that civilians could use the cease-fire,” The Associated Press quoted him as saying.
Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Jeff Harrigan said a Russian fighter had flown dangerously close to a U.S. warplane over eastern Syria, highlighting the risks of a serious mishap in the increasingly crowded airspace.
The near miss occurred late on Oct. 17, when a Russian jet that was escorting a larger spy plane maneuvered in the vicinity of an American warplane, Harrigan said, according to AFP.
The Russian jet came to “inside of half a mile,” he added.
Another US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the American pilot could feel the turbulence produced by the Russian jet’s engines.
“It was close enough you could feel the jet wash of the plane passing by,” the official said.
It appeared the Russian pilot had simply not seen the US jet, as it was dark and the planes were flying without lights.
“I would attribute it to not having the necessary situational awareness given all those platforms operating together,” Harrigan said.