Tens of thousands of Syrians fled their homes Friday due to continuous Russian air strikes near the Syrian city of Aleppo.
The regime’s attack around Aleppo ruined the peace talks currently held in Geneva between the regime and the opposition since the regime backed by Russia is trying to achieve gains on the ground.
The talks were the first trial to reach a political solution in Syria after the UN succeeded in bringing the two sides into proximity talks. However negotiations halted after the opposition refused to continue while Russian air forces are still carrying out operations on the ground.
Aleppo would be one of the most valuable gains in the entire Syrian conflict if the regime managed to seize the city. Videos published on social media show Syrian women and children walking beside men carrying luggage to the Turkish border and waiting for permission to enter.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu estimates that around 15,000 Syrians entering Turkey. Syrian national TV said the governmental troops seized the city of Ratyan, north of Aleppo.
The regime managed to free two Shi’ite towns Wednesday, which had been besieged by opposition forces for years.
Iran’s Tasnim news agency said Revolutionary Guard Corps Brigadier-General Mohsen Ghajarian had been killed in the Aleppo province, in addition to six Iranian volunteer militiamen.
Moscow still insists that its operation in Syria is limited to fighting terror groups like the “Islamic State” (IS) and Al Nusra front.
“Why did the opposition complain about the offensive in Aleppo and leave Geneva? The offensive is in actuality targeted against Al Nusra Front and other radical extremist groups,” Russian ambassador to the UN in Geneva Alexey Borodavkin said.
NATO said the Russian strikes are undermining the peace efforts and warned Russia from violating the Turkish air space. “The intense Russia air strikes, mainly targeting opposition groups in Syria, are undermining the efforts to find a political solution to the conflict,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
Russia accused Turkey of preparing for an attack in Syria, which was denied by Ankara.
Saudi Arabia said that it is ready to participate in a ground operation against IS in Syria led by the US; this was welcomed by the US even though it was not decided until now to launch a ground operation.
Bahrain also said that it is ready to participate in such an operation.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said that any ground intervention will be considered hostile behaviour. “Any ground intervention on Syrian land without governmental authorisation would be considered an aggression … We are sorry to say that any soldiers violating this will return to their country in a wooden coffin,” he said.