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Russia to regard Belgian strikes in Aleppo as support for Nusra if no criticism follows

Moscow expects the US-led coalition and Belgium, in particular, as well as all the international institutions to give an adequate response to the airstrike that caused civilian casualties
F-16 fighter of the Belgian Air Force EPA/ELVIRA URQUIJO A.
F-16 fighter of the Belgian Air Force

MOSCOW, October 19. /TASS/. Moscow expects the US-led coalition to provide an adequate response to the Belgian Air Force’s bombing of Aleppo, Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

"We have information on the US-led coalition’s airstrikes, particularly the Belgian Air Force’s bombing of Aleppo’s civil infrastructure, with civilian casualties having been reported," she said.

"We expect the US-led coalition and Belgium, in particular, as well as all the international institutions, who have been so deeply concerned about the Russian Aerospace Force air raids, especially about alleged strikes on civilian targets, to provide an adequate response," Zakharova said. "We believe that this fact cannot be ignored."

"If no one comments on it, then we will conclude that the real concern is not about the plight of Aleppo’s civilians," the diplomat added. "This media buzz is aimed at protecting Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist group outlawed in Russia) and preventing the Russian Aerospace Forces from eliminating the terrorist groups in Aleppo."

"There can be no other explanation. If no direct condemnation of the US-led coalition, the Belgian Air Force actions follows, then we will have to consider it as an attempt to shield the terrorist groups active on Syria’s territory," Zakharova stressed.

On October 18, Russia’s Reconciliation Center in Syria reported the Hassadjek village had been battered by an airstrike which left six people dead and four injured. At that time, there were no Russian Aerospace Forces or Syrian Air Force aircraft in the area in question while Belgian F-16 fighter jets were detected.


Separation of opposition from terrorists

Zakharova has stressed that there are no obstacles preventing the separation of the Syrian opposition from the terrorists at the moment.

"This step [Russia’s early halt in the airstrikes in Syria] was taken in accordance with Washington’s obligations concerning the separation of the moderate opposition from the terrorists," she said. "Every time the US says that the separation is not possible without the cessation of hostilities."

"At the moment, there is no reason why the separation process couldn’t be completed," the Russian diplomat stated.

Delivery of relief aid to Aleppo

Moscow is wondering what prevents the United Nations from promoting the delivery of relief aid to Aleppo.

"We have studied the response made by a number of UN officials, including claims there are certain hindrances to starting the delivery of relief aid to Aleppo," Zakharova said. "This looks rather strange, because Russia has pledged to pause the bombardments of terrorist elements. Corresponding guarantees in Aleppo have been provided."

"The Syrian side has assumed the same commitments. Consequently, the question arises what is it that prevents UN officials from taking action now to promote the delivery of humanitarian cargoes there and start addressing the humanitarian situation," Zakharova said. "If there are some obstructions, they are posed not by the Syrian army or Russia’s aerospace group. This means that there are other forces. This means that the United Nations is aware of the risks posed by moderate opposition militants and terrorists in Aleppo."

"If this is really so, it should be stated in public and explanations provided what the militants should do to let the United Nations start proactive operations to settle the humanitarian situation in Aleppo," Zakharova said. "Failure to use the pause for contributing to the settlement of the humanitarian situation is impermissible."

Russia has heard many conditions and preconditions, Zakharova said.

"That there has been no action by the coalition to this day means that the real aim was not connected with the humanitarian situation in Aleppo at all," Zakharova said. "This will be direct and unequivocal proof of support for the militants.".