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US-controlled Ahrar al-Sham armed units unwilling to cease fire in Syria

According to the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, militants shell the Syrian army positions as well as civilian targets, while Syrian troops do not return fire

September 14. /TASS/. A number of US-controlled armed units, including Ahrar al-Sham, have announced their unwillingness to cease fire in Syria, the Russian Armed Forces General Staff said Wednesday.

The statment said "some of the armed units under the U.S. control, such as Ahrar al-Sham, have openly announced their unwillingness to join the ceasefire regime. The biggest number of violations were made by those units."

The statement runs that militants in Syria had violated the ceasefire regime 60 times over almost 48 hours of truce.

The first deputy chief of the General Staff’s main operations directorate, Lieutenant-General Viktor Poznikhir, said that "the first 48-hour truce established under the Russian-US agreement for the cessation of military hostilities is expiring at 19:00 on Wednesday. We would like to note that the ceasefire had not been observed in full measure over that period. By Wednesday morning, the militants had violated the ceasefire regime 60 times." 

"We are recording the ceasefire violations. This data will be made available to the international community," Poznikhir said, addint that the Russian military will continue to publish the data.

According to Poznikhir, another four communities have joined the process of reconciliation in Syria thereby increasing the overall number of such localities to 616.

"Over the past twenty four hours reconciliation agreements have been signed with another four communities in Homs and Latakia provinces. The list of such localities has now grown to 616," he said.

The Russian center for the reconciliation of warring factions is pushing ahead with efforts to normalize the situation in Syria. The 48-hour ceasefire came into force at 19.00 Moscow Time on September 12 in accordance with the agreements reached by Russia and the US at the talks in Geneva.

Military and civilian targets in Aleppo under fire

Sergey Kapitsyn, the deputy head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in Syria, told Poznikhir that militants have shelled the Syrian army positions as well as civilian targets near Aleppo ten times over the past 24 hours.

"The militants have twice shelled the al-Ramusi neighborhood and the government troops’ positions near the Castello trading center; the Hai al-Ansari neighborhood has come under mortar fire three times. Army positions near a cement plant and an arms school have also been shelled," the officer said.

The Hai al-Ansari neighborhood, which had been shelled from homemade multiple rocket launchers, was the worst hit. The shelling occurred at 15:30 on Tuesday. "Three civilians died and another seven were wounded by shells coming from the al-Ramusi neighborhood," Kapitsyn stressed explaining that the situation in that neighborhood was extremely complicated.

"Five new shelling incidents have occurred over the past 6 hours," the officer said.

Kapitsyn said that a checkpoint on the Castello road had recently been handed over to the Syrian Red Crescent Society. "Militants set the checkpoint on fire at night time. As a result, two guards received burns of various degree of gravity. At present, the checkpoint is being restored," he added.

Pullback of troops from Castello road may be disrupted

The chief of the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring sides, Gen Vladimir Savchenko said that the situation in Aleppo may put in jeopardy the pullback of troops from the Castello Road that is called upon to ensure the delivery of humanitarian cargoes to the eastern part of the city.

He confirmed the Syrian military's readiness to retreat from the Castello Road after 09:00 hours on Thursday, September 15 simultaneously with the units of the moderate opposition and to set up a demilitarized zone there.

"However, the current situation creates risks for the pullback from the Castello Road to the distances established by agreements," Gen Savchenko said.

He said an observation point by the road underwent shelling from mortars at 15:00 hours local time on Wednesday. A representative of the Syrian troops was unable to make a regular report because of destruction of a satellite telecommunications station.

Savchenko pointed out that Syrian government troops had not returned fire. He reaffirmed the Syrian side’s statement it would be prepared to pull back weapons, military equipment and personnel away from the Castello road simultaneously with the "moderate opposition" groups in compliance with the previously concluded agreements.

Russia-US agreements on Syria

According to Lieutenant-General Viktor Poznikhir, Russia meets all the commitments under the Russia-U.S. agreements on Syria while its U.S. partners have been unable to fulfil its obligation to separate terrorists from moderate opposition in full measure.

"Some western media outlets are spreading information that Russia allegedly has six days left to implement the Russian-U.S. agreements," he said.

"In this connection, I would like to say that the Russian side is meeting the undertaken commitments in full measure," he added. 

He added that Russia had no doubt that the U.S. side was capable of fulfilling its part of the commitments and separate the units of moderate opposition from Jabhat al-Nusra.

 "On the contrary, the terrorist units have shown a trend for unification of their forces which is proved by an increased number of shelling incidents," the general stressed.

The general went on to say that the head of the Russia’s Center for Reconciliation in Syria and the chief of the US military and political analysis group on Wednesday will discuss the extension of the ceasefire and the possibility for the US to step up work with the so called moderate Syrian opposition.

"The head of the Russia’s Center for Reconciliation and the chief of the US military and political analysis group based in Amman are going to hold talks today through the restored direct communication line in order to discuss the need to extend the ceasefire and to intensify the work with the so called moderate opposition by the US side," he said.

Russia favors ceasefire extension

Poznikhir went on to say that the Russian side is in favor of extending the cessation of hostilities time throughout the entire territory of Syria for another 48 hours,

He noted that the Russian side is aware of the importance of the unconditional implementation of the agreements and "is in favor of extending the ceasefire throughout the entire territory of Syria for another 48 hours."