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Russia claims Syrian rebels readying for new offensive

Aid is yet to reach Aleppo despite a ceasefire agreement beggining on Monday [AFP]

Date of publication: 17 September, 2016

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has alleged that Syrian rebel fighters are massing in key areas of the country, and claimed the regime is sticking to the ceasefire agreement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has alleged that Syrian rebels are using the country's truce to "regroup" and broken the ceasefire on several occasions.

Moscow also claimed that the Syrian regime and Russia - who have been bombing opposition areas in Syria - are "fully abiding" to the terms of the truce.

It comes after reports by opposition activists that the regime has broken the ceasefire on dozens of occasions, shelling, shooting and bombing rebel areas over the past four days.

Russia has argued - with seemingly scant evidence - that the opposite is the case.

"We see attempts to regroup among these terrorists," Putin said according to Russia's Interfax news agency.

"As for Russia, it is fully honouring its obligations." 

Shelling and clashes

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said on Saturday that intermittent shelling and sporadic clashes had resumed in Syria overnight on Friday.

The attacks took place "on several fronts", the group claimed, and was "jeopardising the ceasefire".

Clashes between rebels and pro-regime forces has taken place in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, it claimed, while there had been air raids on several towns in Homs province.
Urgently needed aid supplies remain stuck on the Syrian border

Elsewhere, in the regime's coastal stronghold of Latakia regime air raids allegedly targeted Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda's former affiliate in Syria in the Jabal Akrad region.

"So far, Aleppo city is still the calmest of them all," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, the city viewed as a key area for the truce agreement and has witnessed some of Syria's heaviest fighting.

Under the truce deal negotiated by Moscow and Washington, fighting is to halt across the country except in areas where Fatah al-Sham and the Islamic State group are present.

Counter-claims

Syria's opposition has claimed that Syrian regime forces had broken the ceasefire 130 times during the first three full days of the truce.

Violence was witnessed in rebel-held areas such as Aleppo, Hama, Idlib, Damascus, and Quneitra.

Since the Russian-US brokered ceasefire came into place on Monday evening the Syrian regime and opposition groups have traded accusations over violations of the ceasefire.

Meanwhile hold ups in the delivery of aid to the estimated 300,000 inhabitants of rebel-held east Aleppo have led to bickering between Washington and Syria over who is to blame for the delay.

Forty trucks carrying food aid are currently stuck on Syria's border with Turkey with no clear indication of when they will make their onward journey to Aleppo.

The UN has said it is inable to deliver aid until "all guarantees are in place for safe delivery."


On Saturday David Swanson, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said there was “still no progress, but the UN is ready to move once we get the go ahead."

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