MESOP REPORT : SAUDI MANPADS NOW FOR OPPOSITION ? – Syria Daily: Russia on Defensive as Aleppo Bombing Continues

September 27 – By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Facing one of its most difficult political positions since its military intervention in September 2015, Russia tried on Monday to shift attention from continuing Russian-regime airstrikes that have killed almost 400 people in Syria’s largest city Aleppo.

Local rescue workers and journalists said about 60 pro-Assad strikes hit Aleppo early Monday. The attacks eased during the day, but the Local Coordination Committees said 31 people were killed in districts like Sukkari, Mashhad, Karm_Homd, and Bustan_Qasr.

The Russian-regime assault was renewed eight days ago, hours after the Syrian military declared an end to the short-lived US-Russian ceasefire, attacking a UN aid convoy west of Aleppo. Since then, attacks have been near-constant on the opposition areas in and near the city.In Russia’s latest defense, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said on Monday that the allegation of Russian “barbarism” — leveled by the US, British, and French Ambassadors at the UN Security Council — was not appropriate: “We note the overall unacceptable tone and rhetoric of the representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States, which can damage and harm our relations.”

Peskov tried to shift attention to the rebels: “Terrorists are using the cease-fire regime to regroup, to replenish their arsenals and for obvious preparations to carry out attacks”.

The spokesman claimed that, while a recent ceasefire in Syria had “little effect”, Moscow was “not losing the hope and political will to use maximum efforts to reach the point of political settlement in Syria”. “So far it’s been hard,” he added.

Rescue Services Depleted, Water Cut Off

Bebars Mishal, a civil defense worker in opposition-held Aleppo, said of the latest bombardment, “It’s the same situation. Especially at night, the bombardment intensifies, it becomes more violent, using all kinds of weapons, phosphorous and napalm and cluster bombs.”

Ammar al-Selmo, the head of the local White Helmets civil defense organization, said rescuers have only two fire trucks and three ambulances left, with three fire trucks, two ambulances, and three vans hit in the past week. An estimated 1.75 million people in Aleppo are without water. A pumping station for opposition-held east Aleppo, with an estimated 250,000 population, was destroyed by bombing. The 1.5 million in regime areas have also lost supply — because of a rebel cut-off in response to the attacks on east Aleppo and/or because of damage from the airstrikes.

“We are trying to respond…but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring,” Selmo said.

Aref al-Aref, an intensive care medical worker, added: Aleppo city’s hospitals are overwhelmed with wounded people….Things are starting to run out.

We are unable to bring anything in … not equipment and not even medical staff. Some medical staff are in the countryside, unable to come in because of the siege.

Brita Hagi Hassan, the President of the opposition Aleppo city council, spoke of an unprecedented assault: The planes are not leaving the skies at all….Life in the city is paralyzed. Everyone is cooped up in their homes, sitting in the basements. These missiles are even targeting the basements and shelters that we’d set up to protect people.

Kerry: Not “Delusional” to Work With Russia

While criticizing the Russian-regime bombing, US Secretary of State John Kerry defended his pursuit alongside Moscow of a ceasefire and political process.

Republican Senator John McCain said last week that Kerry was “intrepid but delusional” for putting too much faith in Russia.Kerry responded on Monday, during a trip to Colombia, that discussions had to be renewed:

The cause of what is happening is Assad and Russia wanting to pursue a military victory. Today there is no ceasefire and we’re not talking to them right now. And what’s happening? The place is being utterly destroyed. That’s not delusional. That’s a fact. After the escalation of Russian-regime airstrikes last week, including the attack on the UN aid convoy, Kerry briefly raised the idea of grounding Russian and Syrian warplanes over areas of humanitarian need. However, both Damascus and Moscow immediately rebuffed the proposal.

A US official raised a different possibility, saying that Saudi Arabia might begin providing anti-aircraft weapons to rebels: “The Saudis have always thought that the way to get the Russians to back off is what worked in Afghanistan 30 years ago – negating their air power by giving [shoulder-mounted air defense] MANPADS to the mujahideen.”

He continued to hold Washington’s line that the weapons should not be supplied: “So far, we’ve been able to convince them that the risks of that are much higher today because we’re not dealing with a Soviet Union in retreat, but a Russian leader who’s bent on rebuilding Russian power and less likely to flinch.”