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Russia’s Defense Ministry sends artillery intelligence assets to Syria

Syria's government troops have stopped all fire, except for the areas were Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists still operate

MOSCOW, September 13. /TASS/. Artillery target intelligence assets have been sent to the Syrian city of Aleppo at Damascus’ request, the Deputy Commander of the Chief Operations Branch of the Russian General Staff, Lieutenant General Viktor Poznikhir said. According to him, these assets will be used to record shelling and ceasefire violations.

"I ask you to inform the Syrian side that in compliance with their request, artillery target intelligence assets have been sent to the city of Aleppo to register military barrages and ceasefire violations," Lieutenant General Poznikhir said to the head of Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria Vladimir Savchenko.

Six killed in Aleppo

Colonel Sergei Kopitsyn, a representative of the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Aleppo, reported that six people were killed and ten more were wounded in Syria’s Aleppo overnight as the so-called "moderate" opposition violated the ceasefire regime.

"After the regime of cessation of hostilities came into force, five violations of ceasefire by moderate opposition were reported in the city of Aleppo during the night. As a result, six people were killed and ten more wounded," he said during a videoconference with Russia’s national defense management center.

According to Kopitsyn, sniper fire was opened at positions of the Republican Guard near Hai Zahrat Awad late on September 12. Apart from that, living quarters in the settlement of Hai al-Ansari came under mortar shelling. Positions of the Syrian army were shelled from anti-tank guided missile systems from the Sheikh Said neighborhood.

The center’s representative also said that Kurdish self-defense forces in the Shkeif district came under shelling by moderate opposition from heavy machineguns and firearms.

"Positions of government troops in Braij al-Rih were shelled from Zu-23 multiple missile launcher systems from midnight to 01:00 a.m.," he added.

Syrian government troops do not return fire

Lieutenant-General Savchenko reported residential areas and government troops positions near Aleppo came under fire 10 times.

"New violations of the regime of the cessation of military hostilities have been registered in the course of today. The residential areas and government troops positions have been shelled in Aleppo 10 times," Savchenko said.

"The positions of Syrian government troops, people’s militia units and residential areas have been shelled 23 times since the ceasefire regime took effect: in Aleppo - 6 times; in highland Latakia - 2 times; in Damascus province - 7 times; in Hama province - four times; in Idlib province - 3 times and in Deraa province - 1 time. The biggest number of violations has been registered in Aleppo and Damascus," Savchenko stressed.

Savchenko said that the Syrian government troops did not return the fire. "In most cases, the fire came from areas where, according to our U.S partners, the detachments of ‘moderate opposition’ were located alongside the units of Jabhat al-Nusra (a terrorist organization, which is outlawed in Russia)," the Russian general said.

He noted that three shelling incidences had been registered in southwestern Aleppo - in Ramusy, Ansar and 1070 neighborhoods.

"The U.S. side kept repeating at Geneva talks that the Washington-controlled ‘moderate opposition’ was dominating in those areas. However, the shelling continues from those areas even after the ceasefire regime had been re-established," General Savchenko added.

Lieutenant-General Poznikhir said that "Syrian government troops have stopped all fire everywhere, except for the areas were Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists still operate."

"Regrettably, the same cannot be said about armed groups of the US-controlled moderate opposition. Since the moment the regime of the cessation of hostilities was introduced 23 bombardments of residential areas and positions of government troops had been registered by Tuesday morning," he said.

"We have registered the fact of regrouping forces by the so-called moderate opposition with an aim to launch an offensive in the provinces of Hama and Aleppo," Poznikhir stressed.

"I remind the participants in the video conference of the need for strict compliance with the cessation of hostilities regime," he noted. "I ask everyone not to react to provocations, carefully register all possible violations and send this information to the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Parties."

Chief of the Syrian Republican Guard’s operations directorate, General Kemal Sarim, said "the situation in the Damascus suburbs remains complex. The government troops ceased fire at 19.00 on September 12 and are strictly complying with the cessation of hostilities regime. In the meantime, militants of Jabhat al-Nusra joined by ‘moderate opposition’ units opened fire on government troops and residential areas seven times last night," he told the video conferene. 

The general noted that fire rained down on Ibn al Waleed hospital, the populated localities of Haouch Nasri, Haouch El-Farah and Jabour. Besides, militants opened fire three times on Republican Guard positions in the city of Harasta.

He added that the Syrian troops opened no reprisal fire. "I declare with full responsibility that Republican Guard units continue to fully follow instructions from the Syrian leadership on strict compliance with the cessation of hostilities terms," Sarim said.

Ceasefire observed by and large

Colonel Sergei Kapytsin noted that the ceasefire regime, introduced at 19:00 Moscow time on Monday, has been observed by and large.

"At the same time between 20:10 and 20:20 a section of the road Castello, held by government troops, came under mortar fire. Two Syrian servicemen were killed and one injured," Kapytsin said.

"We are on the road Castello, where works are nearing completion to install a checkpoint of the Syrian Red Crescent Society. According to the Syrian side, the roadblock will be finalized and ready for the handover to Red Crescent officials by 19:00 Moscow time," Kapytsin said.

The checkpoint will be guarded by a group of 20 militias.

"Under the Russian-US agreements of September 9 before UN officials take over the checkpoint the road will be open only to cargo vehicles inspected and sealed by the UN monitoring mission. Syrian Red Crescent personnel will be checking the integrity of the seals and ensuring the free passage of trucks carrying humanitarian cargoes," he recalled.

"At the moment Syrian government troops and local militias are putting the finishing touches to the positions that will accommodate the personnel and heavy weapons to be withdrawn under the agreement of September 9," Kapytsin said.

"According to the Syrian side, government troops will be ready to pull back simultaneously with opposition groups starting from 09:00 of September 15 to create a demilitarized zone along the Castello road," he said.

612 Syrian settlements join peace process

According to Viktor Poznikhir, the number of populated localities joining the reconciliation process in Syria has reached 612.

"The Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria continues to exert maximum effort to normalize the situation in Syria. Over the past day, reconciliation agreements were signed with representatives of four more settlements in the province of Latakia. Thus, the number of such settlements is now 612," he said.

Apart from that, more than two tonnes of humanitarian cargoes - sugar, flour, rice, canned meat and fish, salt and tea - were delivered to low-income families in the settlement of Jinarjik in the province of Latakia.