(UR) Aleppo — Hours after Russia warned — in the face of the U.S. considering further military options in Aleppo — it would take “all necessary measures” to protect Russians in the war-town city, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad once again offered fighters in rebel-held eastern Aleppo amnesty if they surrender. Reports Reuters:
“Rebels holed up in Aleppo can leave with their families if they lay down arms, President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday, vowing to press on with the assault on Syria’s largest city and recapture full control of the city.
“The offer of amnesty follows two weeks of the heaviest bombardment in the five-and-a-half-year civil war, which has killed hundreds of people trapped inside Aleppo’s rebel-held eastern sector and torpedoed a U.S.-backed peace initiative.”
If the rebels choose not to go, Assad said, while speaking to Danish television, it’s on them. It won’t affect plans, as Syrian forces and their allies will “continue the fight with the rebels until they leave Aleppo. They have to. There’s no other option.”
This is the second time in just over two months President Assad has offered amnesty to the rebels in Aleppo, the first coming at the tail end of July, when Syrian and Russian forces had effectively created a siege around eastern Aleppo. Rebels managed to temporarily break that siege, but were quickly surrounded again by pro-Assad forces.
Since then, the situation has deteriorated considerably — both militarily and diplomatically. Violence has spiked, particularly in recent weeks, and state officials on all sides have been lobbing accusations.
Now, Russia is officially stating what much of the world has already divined — that the United States’ continued involvement in the Syrian conflict could lead to all-out war with Russia.
“I would like to caution Washington’s colleagues to carefully consider the possible consequences of such plans,” Major General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Thursday, praising advancements in Russian military hardware — hardware ally Syria has access to.
“Today, the Syrian army has an effective air defense system, S-200 and Buk, which have undergone technical renovation in the past year,” he said. “I remind U.S. strategists that air cover for the Russian military bases in Tartus and Hmeymim includes S-400 and S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, the range of which may come as a surprise to any unidentified flying objects.”
Suggesting the U.S. has placed too much faith in the capabilities of its stealth fighter jets, Konashenkov warned“Russian air defense system crews are unlikely to have time” to identify aircraft in its space, and that, should this happen, “amateurs with illusions about the existence of invisible jets will face a disappointing reality.”
But the real warning came at the end. Konashenkov — citing the alleged accidental airstrike by the U.S. that killed over 60 Syrian soldiers in mid-September — made clear Russia has a number of servicemen and aid workers in several communities in Aleppo, and that “any strikes on territories controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat” to Russian citizens.
It appears, in fact, a line may have just officially been drawn, as Konashenkov seems to plainly state:
“I am warning anyone, that after the U.S.-led coalition jets bombed positions of the Syrian government forces on September 17 in Deir ez-Zor, we will take all necessary measures to prevent other American ‘mistakes’ against the Russian military or other military facilities in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.”
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