Russia tells US to separate rebels from terrorists.
MOSCOW, OCTOBER 19 – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone on Tuesday evening with Russian President Vladimir Putin about an accord to make troops of Al-Nusra Front, now known as Fateh al-Sham Front, withdraw from Aleppo “as requested” by Moscow to “bring peace to the people of Aleppo”, Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara on Wednesday.
The Tuesday conversation centered on the humanitarian ceasefire in Aleppo set for tomorrow, as well as the Mosul offensive in Iraq, the fight against terrorism and bilateral relations.
The two leaders met last week in Istanbul and signed an agreement for the Turkish Stream gas pipeline.
“We have to avoid ISIS jihadists leaving Mosul and the surrounding areas only to turn up in Syria,” said General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia.
“It’s therefore necessary not to bring terrorists from one country to another, but to eliminate them in place,” he said.
Gerasimov emphasised that Russian and Syrian air forces haven’t hit terrorists in Aleppo for over 24 hours, in order to enact a humanitarian ceasefire, while militants continue to hammer residential neighbourhoods with artillery fire “with the same intensity”.
He also said that the US “hasn’t taken any initiative to separate terrorists from rebels”.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that suspension of Russian and Syrian airstrikes was “the US’s only prerequisite for separating terrorists from moderate opposition”.
On Wednesday in Geneva, Russian and American experts met to talk about this separation of US-backed moderate rebels from terrorist groups.
Russia and Syria will extend the humanitarian ceasefire set for tomorrow in Aleppo for three hours “upon request of international organisations”, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia.
Russian and Syrian jets stopped operations on Tuesday and are keeping a distance from Aleppo of “at least 10 kilometres”.
The Russian Army will broadcast civilian evacuation operations in Aleppo on Wednesday live on its Defence Ministry website, said Sergey Rudskoy, head of the Russian General Staff Main Operations Department.
“The evacuation will be registered in real time with the help of webcams set up near the humanitarian corridors and unmanned aerial vehicles,” he said.
Meanwhile, intense armed conflicts are underway in northern Aleppo between Kurdish-Syrian forces and local Arab insurgents backed by Turkey, local sources told ANSA.
They said fighting began in the context of the Turkish-led offensive in northern Aleppo in the Marea and Tell Rifaat areas which have been under the control of Kurdish-Syrian forces for months.