By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – 16 Sept 2016 – A ceasefire across Syria largely held for the fourth day on Thursday, but there was no movement towards aid for besieged opposition areas of Aleppo city, a central provision of the US-Russian agreement.Two convoys of 20 trucks each from Turkey continued to be held up near the Turkish-Syrian border, more than two days after they tried to move towards Syria’s largest city. The trucks, which began their aborted journey on Tuesday, have enough food for 80,000 people for a month. The UN estimates that about 250,000 people are in opposition-held areas of east Aleppo. The area was initially besieged by pro-Assad forces, supported by Russian airpower, in early July and then again last month after the Syrian military and foreign allies regained territory southwest of the city.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the Syrian army had begun to withdraw from the al-Castello Road, the sole route north of Aleppo into opposition districts, but rebels said that they had not seen any movement and that they would not pull back from their own positions nearby.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said the US and Russia were expected to manage the pullback of forces from the road. However, he noted: The Syrian government promised permits for UN aid convoys before the ceasefire….They have not been received. This is something that is required to happen immediately.The chief advisor for humanitarian operations, Jan Egeland, carefully avoided placing all blame on the Assad regime and its main ally Russia. The reason we’re not in eastern Aleppo has again been a combination of very difficult and detailed discussions around security monitoring and passage of roadblocks, which is both opposition and government….
Can grown men please stop putting bureaucratic roadblocks in place to stop aid workers doing their jobs to help civilians — wounded women and children?
The ceasefire continued to limit the death toll on Thursday. The pro-opposition Local Coordination Committees documented the killing of 50 people, but 27 of them were in areas in eastern Syria controlled by the Islamic State, which is excluded from the truce. Of the other 23 deaths, nine were in Aleppo Province, most in the village of Tabara Kilish. The LCC said pro-Assad warplanes had carried out an attack which included cluster bombs.
Opposition activists also reported regime attacks from Aleppo, Homs, and Hama Province in the northwest to the Damascus suburbs to Daraa Province in the south. One site set out a list of 27 claimed violations of the ceasefire. In the first detailed report on alleged violations, the Syrian Network for Human Rights profiled 28 attacks by pro-Assad forces in the initial 48 hours of the ceasefire. A pro-regime website acknowledged Syrian Air Force strikes on northern Hama Province, albeit asserting that these were after rebels “fired several rockets”.
According to a military source in the Hama Governorate, the Syrian Air Force conducted airstrikes over the villages of Taybat Al-Imam, Souran, Kawkab, Al-Lataminah, and Kafr Zita.
The military source added that these airstrikes caused significant damage to the jihadist defenses, while also providing relief to the exhausted soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Both Russia’s Defense Ministry and the Syrian military have claimed scores of violations by rebels, albeit without any evidence to support the assertions.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed on Thursday that the US was covering up rebel breaches: Only the Syrian army has been observing the ceasefire regime, while the US-led “moderate opposition” has been increasing the number of shellings of residential quarters. Moreover, it appears that the “verbal curtain” of Washington is aimed at hiding the non-fulfilment of the US obligations.