group Jabhat al-Nusra has gathered nearly 10 thousand troops around
the city of Aleppo, according to Russian military officials. However,
they denied an earlier claim by the Syrian government that they had
planned to take part in an assault on the city.
progress achieved in securing a ceasefire, Turkey continues to funnel
men and arms to Jabhat al-Nusra,” said
Lt. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy, head of operations at the Russian General
Staff, at a scheduled press briefing in Moscow.
Islamic State, al-Nusra is not party to the shaky six-week old
ceasefire being monitored by Russia and the US, and remains a
men and materiel are being allowed to pass through areas that the US
has designated as being controlled by the opposition,” continued
Rudskoy in a reprise of a frequent Russian claim that the West and
its Middle Eastern allies are shielding extremists by labeling them
as moderate opposition.
official said that Moscow has asked Washington to assist in limiting
al-Nusra’s strategic maneuvers.
to Rudskoy more than 8,000 al-Nusra militants have concentrated on
the south-western outskirts of Aleppo, and 1,500 are to the north of
what was Syria’s largest city before the outbreak of violence in
2011. In the last day alone, more than 300 militants have arrived in
the area, equipped with a tank, and over 20 offroaders with mounted
has been under partial militant control since 2012, and intense
clashes have erupted in the past week.
is reliably known that the militants are planning a large-scale
offensive with the aim of cutting off communication between Aleppo
and Damascus,” said
they are not stopped, we could see a blockade of northern parts of
the same time, the official moved to dispel strengthening rumors that
the government is preparing a counter-offensive to regain control of
Aleppo. These were strengthened by Syrian Prime Minister Wael
al-Halaki, who said on Sunday, that “together
with our Russian partners, we are preparing for an operation to
are no plans to storm Aleppo,” insisted
public statements from opposition forces and Western diplomats that
the ceasefire is on the verge of a breakdown, the Russian general
claimed that “peace
is returning to Syria.”
specifically mentioned the towns of Palmyra and Al-Qaratayn, which
have been won back from Islamic State this month. Rudskoy also said
that 61 settlements have signed up to the ceasefire with Syrian
authorities, and 47 military brigades have indicated that they have
stopped fighting to the Russian monitoring center.