It Is Al Nusra Escalating the Fighting in Aleppo
April 25, 2016 (EIRNS)—Twice in the past week, officials of the U.S. government admitted, out front, that it is the Al Qaeda- affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra which is escalating the fighting in Syria. On April 20, Col. Steve Warren, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters at the Pentagon via video teleconference that "it’s primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities," with the obvious implication that the Russians and the Syrian government are right to attack them. Two days later, Secretary of State John Kerry admitted to the New York Times editorial board that the Russians might be moving on Aleppo, because members of al-Nusra were mixed throughout parts of the region, and that they were terrorists not party to the cease-fire. At the same time, he said, the region is home to insurgent groups that oppose Mr. Assad and have agreed to the cease-fire.
"That has proven harder to separate them than we thought," Mr. Kerry said. "And there’s a Russian impatience and a regime impatience with the terrorists who are behaving like terrorists and laying siege to places on their side and killing people."
Al Masdar News reported, this morning, that there has been a surge in Russian air activity out of their airbase in Latakia, almost back to pre-cease fire levels, over the past three weeks. Citing their correspondent in Damascus, Al Masdar says that the number of airstrikes carried out by the Russian Air Force has doubled in the last three weeks, due to the increase in ground activity by the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra militants.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered some advice, this morning, to the Syrian rebel groups that claim to be part of the ceasefire, and to their American backers.
"We agreed long ago that groups that found themselves on the positions of terrorists but that are not terrorists and want to participate in the political process, should leave the territories of terrorist positions,"
Lavrov said. "They should disassociate and physically leave these positions." The problem is, Lavrov went on, the United States has not been keeping to its commitments to separate the groups it backs from al-Nusra. "The firm promise of the U.S. that it gave to us to carry out this demarcation has not been fulfilled for two months already," he said.