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Russian army asks Putin to allow Aleppo strikes


Russian President Vladimir Putin / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / ALEXEI DRUZHININ

Russian President Vladimir Putin / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / ALEXEI DRUZHININ

The Russian defence ministry said Friday it had asked President Vladimir Putin for permission to resume strikes on the Syrian city of Aleppo after a 10-day moratorium.

The announcement came as Syrian rebels launched an assault on government forces to break a months-long siege of rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

“We have appealed to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation with a request to resume air strikes,” senior military official Sergei Rudskoi told a briefing.

The Kremlin did not immediately comment on the ministry’s request.

At least 15 civilians were killed and more than 100 wounded on Friday by rebel rocket fire on government-held western Aleppo neighbourhoods, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Russia’s defence ministry has said that Syrian and Russian warplanes had not bombed Aleppo in the past 10 days and that civilians and rebels wishing to leave the city can do so via humanitarian corridors.

The halt in bombing was initially declared ahead of a short ceasefire that ended at the weekend, with Moscow on Monday ruling out a truce extension for the time being.

Rudskoi added that Russia was ready to “assess any proposal about improving the humanitarian situation in Aleppo, including the introduction of ‘humanitarian pauses'”, but warned that a halt in bombing should not be used “for fighters to reach their objectives.”

The West has accused Moscow of committing possible war crimes in Aleppo through indiscriminate bombing to support Syrian government efforts to retake total control over the city.

Russia has meanwhile denied any role in deadly air strikes on a Syrian school in the rebel-held province of Idlib that killed 22 children on Wednesday.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strikes were carried out by “warplanes — either Russian or Syrian.”

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