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Monday, March 14, 2016

Civilans killed as rockets and mortars hit predominantly Kurdish area of Aleppo

Attacks by rockets and mortars hit a predominantly Kurdish area in the city of Aleppo, Syria. The area is under the control of the Syrian government of Bashir Assad.

Reports on the number of casualties vary. ABC claims 13 civilians were killed and 40 wounded according the government and also one opposition group. However the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in the UK said that nine civilians were killed, including four children, with dozens more wounded. The Observatory also claimed more than 70 rockets and mortar shells rained down on the Sheikh Maqsoud area.
The Observatory said the firing was by insurgents including the Al-Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front. The Front did not take part in negotiations for the recent ceasefire brokered by Russia and the U.S. Spokesperson Redir Xelil from the People's Protection Unit (YPG) also claimed the attacks killed nine civilians, including four children, two women and three men. An early report by Syrian state media claimed 14 were killed.
Fighting with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front continues but there has been a sharp drop in violence since the ceasefire came into effect, in spite of a number of reports of violations by both sides. The U.S. and Russia hope both sides will return to peace negotiations brokered by the UN next week. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that in a telephone conversation, both Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, had "an overall positive assessment of the progress toward securing the cease-fire in Syria, which is being generally observed and already has led to a sharp decrease in the level of violence." Although less aid has been delivered to besieged areas than expected, nevertheless, there has been "significant improvement" in humanitarian access. Some observers thought the Syria military might capture all of Aleppo before the ceasefire but that did not happen. The city has been contested by both sides for years and much of the city has been badly damaged.
In other Syria news, the U.S. appears to be expanding it operations in northeast Syria in areas controlled by the Kurdish YPG and is working on two separate air bases. While the U.S. Central Command issued a statement denying that the U.S. had any direct control over any airfields in Syria it did not deny that the projects were ongoing.


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