Business Insider reports: The spokesman for the US military operation against ISIS made a comment in a Wednesday press briefing in Baghdad that helps justify Russia’s continued attacks on Syria’s largest city in the midst of a truce.
US Army Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq, was asked whether Russian airstrikes on Aleppo, the current epicenter of the war, meant that Moscow was preparing to end the cessation of hostilities (CoH) agreement between government forces and the opposition signed on February 29.
Warren responded that it was “complicated” because al-Nusra “holds Aleppo” and is not party to the agreement.
Warren said of Russia:
I’m not going to predict what their intentions are. What I do know is that we have seen, you know, regime forces with some Russian support as well begin to mass and concentrate combat power around Aleppo. … That said, it’s primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities. So it’s complicated.
As Middle East analyst Kyle Orton noted on Twitter, Warren came “pretty close” to saying that the coalition supports Russia’s airstrikes in the city. Those strikes, however, are aimed at degrading any and all opposition to Bashar Assad — the embattled Syrian president who the Obama administration has repeatedly insisted “has to go.” [Continue reading…]