Airstrikes Kill More Than 50 People in Northwest Syria
At least 53 people were killed by air raids on a marketplace in Aleppo’s countryside on Monday.
At least five children and three women were among those killed by three separate airstrikes that targeted a crowded market in the rebel-held town of Atareb, the Associated Press said, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
The SOHR said it could not determine whether Russian or Syrian government warplanes were responsible for the attack.
Atareb and other parts of northwest Syria were designated as a so-called de-escalation zone by Turkey, Russia and Iran earlier this year.
Government Preparing for Second Boukamal Offensive
Pro-government forces – who were routed from the so-called Islamic State’s last stronghold in Syria over the weekend – are now preparing for a second push to capture the militant bastion, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Monday.
Syrian troops, Iraqi militias and the Lebanese Hezbollah are currently based outside the town of Boukamal, where they are waiting for reinforcements to arrive from the town of al-Mayadeen, located further north along the Euphrates river.
When reinforcements arrive, pro-government forces will launch a second attack against the ISIS stronghold, the monitor said. It reported that pro-government forces advancing from al-Mayadeen reached within 22 miles (35km) of Boukamal on Sunday night.
ISIS regained full control over the town of Boukamal on Saturday, only two days after the Syrian government prematurely declared victory over the militant group.
Separately, defense secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday that the U.S. will continue to fight ISIS in Syria “as long as they want to fight,” Reuters reported.
“The enemy hasn’t declared that they’re done with the area yet, so we’ll keep fighting as long as they want to fight,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
He added that the U.S. army’s longer-term goal would be to block the return of an “ISIS 2.0.”
Erdogan Calls on U.S. and Russia to Pull out From Syria in Response to Joint Statement
Turkey’s president on Monday said that the U.S. and Russia should pull out their troops from Syria in a sarcastic response to a joint presidential statement released by the two states only days earlier, Reuters reported.
Russia and the U.S. released a joint statement on Saturday in which they said that there could be no military solution to the conflict in Syria.
“I am having trouble understanding these comments,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters before flying out to Russia’s coastal city of Sochi for talks with Putin.
“If a military solution is out of the question, then those who say this should pull their troops out.”
Erdogan also stressed that both Russia and the U.S. are building bases in Syria – an indication that they would not be pulling out anytime soon.
“The United States said it would completely leave Iraq, but it didn’t. The world is not stupid, some realities are being told differently and practiced differently,” he said, and he stated that Russia has five bases in Syria and the U.S. has 13.
- BBC: Raqqa’s Dirty Secret
- Bloomberg: Only the U.N. Can Hold a Real Syrian Election
- Al-Monitor: Putin, Trump Follow Winding Path to Latest Syria Agreement
- Open Democracy: Syrian Cultural Work in Turkey: The Marginalization Continues – Part I
- Al-Monitor: Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Face Eviction