Russia asks Turkey to find and punish forces who shelled Aleppo

The Russian military has asked Turkey to help find and punish those responsible for shelling residential areas in the Syrian city of Aleppo on March 21. The Syrian authorities previously blamed the attack on pro-Turkish Syrian opposition groups based west of Aleppo and in neighboring Idlib.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels are seen in this file photo.

Duvar English 

Russia’s center for the reconciliation of conflicting parties in Syria has urged Turkey to assist the search for and punishment of those responsible for the bombardment of residential areas of Syria’s Aleppo on March 21, the center’s deputy chief, Rear Admiral Alexander Karpov, told a news briefing on March 24.

Armed opposition groups on March 21 opened fire on Aleppo’s residential areas, killing two civilians and injuring 17 others, including children. The Syrian authorities blamed the attack on pro-Turkish Syrian opposition groups based west of Aleppo and in neighboring Idlib.

"On March 21, radicals in Kafer Hanni fired six missiles from a multiple rocket system at Aleppo’s residential areas. As a result of this unprecedented criminal action by terrorists, two civilians were killed and 17 others injured. I believe that the culprits must be identified and punished. We hope that the Turkish side will provide assistance in this respect," TASS cited Karpov as saying.

He stressed that such actions were destabilizing the situation in the whole of Syria and considerably hampering a return to a peaceful life.

"The cessation of hostilities in Syria is observed by and large. However, I have to stress that there have been daily bombardments from the positions of the terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusra. The fire attacks vary 25 to 30 a day," Karpov said, adding that most of the bombardments were in the Idlib de-escalation zone.

The chief of the Syrian Defense Ministry’s military-political department, Hassan Suleiman, told the news briefing that "violations were registered in the suburbs of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib."

"This violates the rules of de-escalation and impedes humanitarian efforts being exerted by the Syrian army and the Russian side for the evacuation of the civilian population from the militants-controlled Idlib zone," he said.

A de-escalation zone was created in northwestern Syria in 2017 for those militants who had refused to lay down arms after the government army’s operations in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus and in the country’s southern regions. A ceasefire has been in effect there since March 6, 2020 following agreements achieved between Russia and Turkey.

Pro-Turkish opposition groups and Jabhat al-Nusra have systematically violated the ceasefire by shelling both Syrian army positions and civilian communities.

Turkey on March 23 expressed to Russia's envoy its objections and concerns about a recent flare-up of violence in northwest Syria after rebel sources and witnesses accused Russian jets of hitting towns near the Turkish border and a hospital in the region.