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Russian defense ministry: People leaving Aleppo say militants executed 26 people

Militants are using the ceasefire regime in Syria to get prepared for large-scale combat operations in Aleppo, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman also said

MOSCOW, September 18. /TASS/. Militants have executed 26 civilians, including nine teenagers, in Aleppo who asked them to leave their neighborhood, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Sunday, citing eyewitnesses who have managed to leave the city via humanitarian corridors.

"Civilians who left Aleppo’s Sheikh Hader district via the 1st and 6th humanitarian corridors at ten in the morning on Sunday told about execution of 26 local residents, including nine teenagers, on Saturday. These people asked militants arriving from another district of the city to leave their neighborhood to prevent an outbreak of hostilities there," the spokesman said.

"According to eyewitnesses, several hundred people took part in these spontaneous protests," he added.

Several humanitarian corridors were opened in Aleppo in late July to furnish civilians and terrorists willing to surrender arms with a possibility to leave the city.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who held thirteen-hours-long talks in Geneva on September 10, coordinated a package of five documents called upon to bring about ceasefire in Syria and to lay down the foundations of a resumption of the political process. The documents feature the separation of the armed opposition and terrorists and envision the delivery of joint Russian-U.S. airstrikes. They also specify a procedure for reacting to violations of the ceasefire and some aspects of delivery of humanitarian aid millions of people are wanting badly.

The cessation of hostilities regime came into effect from 19:00 Moscow time on September 12. On September 14, the ceasefire was extended for 48 hours more.

Militants preparing for large-scale combat operations in Aleppo

The ceasefire regime in Syria is being observed by only government troops whereas militants are using it to get prepared for large-scale combat operations in Aleppo, the spokesman also said.

"During the sixth day of the ceasefire regime, only the Syrian government troops have been really observing the moratorium on combat operations. There has been not a single contact with representatives of any ‘moderate opposition’ on ceasefire-related issues. All our requests to the U.S. side to provide contacts of ‘moderate oppositionists’ or to influence them have been to no avail. On the contrary, the number of shellings of the Syrian government troops’ positions and populated localities by militants is only growing," he said.

The most serious situation, according to Konashenkov, is reported in Aleppo. "Militants are using the regime of cessation of hostilities and the fact that government troops are not opening retaliatory fire to pull manpower and weapons in the areas they control, both during the day and at night," he said. "Militants are using the ceasefire to lick wounds, recuperate and prepare for resumption of combat operations."

According to Konashenkov, objective control tools and other reconnaissance channels spotted movements of militants and concentration of armored vehicles and cars both in Aleppo’s eastern part and in suburbs. "Such facts only prove our apprehension of regrouping of terrorist groups and their preparing large-scale combat operations," he said, adding that civilians leaving Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods confirm these reports.

"Thus, a week of ceasefire, it has become clear that the U.S. side has neither influence nor even contacts with ‘moderate oppositionists’ acting on the ground in Syria rather than in Western capitals. Moreover, instead of the separation of terrorists from the ‘opposition’ the Americans have promised, militants are using the regime of cessation of hostilities to lick wounds, recuperate and prepare for resumption of combat operations," the Russian defense ministry spokesman said.