Russian bombing triggers civilian exodus from Aleppo

BBC News reports: Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are moving to Turkey’s border to flee heavy fighting near the city of Aleppo, officials and activists have said.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said up to 70,000 might be heading to the border, while a monitoring group put the number at about 40,000.

Intense Russian air strikes have helped Syria’s government troops make advances near the country’s largest city.

Meanwhile, Russia accused Turkey of preparing an invasion into Syria.

Also on Thursday, a Saudi military spokesman said the country was ready to send ground troops to Syria to fight the so-called Islamic State group. [Continue reading…]

The Independent reports: Forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad claimed to have severed the last rebel supply line to Aleppo last night in what would be a devastating blow to the Syrian opposition.

The attack, backed by Russian warplanes, was condemned by France for “torpedoing” tentative peace talks in Geneva, while the US said it was “difficult” to see how the air strikes, which the State Department said were mostly on civilian targets, would help resolve the conflict.

Pro-government media said that forces from the Syrian army and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah had reached two Shia towns north of the city that had been besieged by rebel insurgents. They claimed to have captured part of the only road that runs from Turkey to the rebel-held half of Aleppo, cutting its only supply route.

With pro-government forces close to surrounding Syria’s second city, the United Nations under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Stephen O’Brien, spoke yesterday of grave consequences for its beleaguered population if Aleppo was besieged by regime forces.

“What is happening in Syria is bad enough without something like that happening in Aleppo. But if the situation there gets worse we will have a large population at risk and we would need to get immediate access for road convoys to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance” he told The Independent. Aid groups also warned that a huge humanitarian crisis was looming, while people in the area were stockpiling food and supplies in anticipation of a siege. [Continue reading…]

The Guardian reports: The Russian defence ministry said on Thursday it had hit almost 900 targets in Syria in the previous three days. While Moscow’s intervention has the declared aim of battling the Islamic State terror group, military observers claim at least 70% of airstrikes have targeted opposition groups fighting to oust Assad. [Continue reading…]

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