Spokesman for the US-led anti-ISIS coalition Col. Steve Warren said at a briefing on Wednesday that the situation in and around Aleppo has become “increasingly dire.” Warren described the Assad regime’s and Russia’s onslaught on the province as “systematic and widespread attack on civilians.”
“We’re concerned that with the reduced humanitarian access and continued strikes by the Russians and the Syrians, thousands of civilians are suffering,” Warren added. He cited a UN report that accused the Assad regime of “inhumane actions,” against Syrian civilians on a scale that “amounts to extermination.”
“With the destruction of the two main hospitals in Aleppo by Russian and regime attacks, over 50,000 Syrians are now without any access to live-saving assistance,” Warren went on.
Doctors Without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday said that a Russian raid has recently hit a hospital RSF supports in Aleppo.
Warren stressed that “Russia can no longer credibly claim its airstrikes there are doing anything other than supporting regime forces,” adding that the Russian airstrikes “forced tens of thousands of innocent Syrians to flee for their lives.”
Warren added that in just two days the Russian air force dropped over 200 bombs on Aleppo during the Geneva peace discussions, pointing out that ISIS “is virtually nonexistent in that part of Syria.”
For his part, US President Barack Obama’s envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition said on Wednesday that Russian airstrikes in Syria are boosting the militant group because of the toll they are taking on the mainstream opposition fighters.
“What Russia’s doing is directly enabling ISIL,” the envoy, Brett McGurk, told a hearing of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee.
“The Russians claim that they’re cutting off weapons supply corridors, but they’re actually cutting off humanitarian corridors so at the very least they need to put their money where their mouth is and open up the humanitarian corridors immediately to all of these besieged areas,” he said. “This will be a very difficult three days coming up, but we’re going to be very firm – the situation is totally unacceptable.”
McGurk also said that due to successive battlefield defeats in Syria, ISIS is left with only a 98-kilometer stretch of the border with Turkey, which he termed as “its remaining sole outlet to the world.”
Hailing its role in fighting ISIS, McGurk said that Turkey had made strides in securing its border with Syria, pointing out that Turkish officials “are doing quite a lot” to ensure that ISIS fighters cannot exploit the border. (Source: Agencies)