Russia continues to bomb despite Syria truce deal

Despite world powers reaching deal on temporary ceasefire in Syria, Russia continues its air strikes in support of Syrian regime

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A woman makes her way through the rubble of damaged buildings after airstrikes by pro-Syrian regime forces in the opposition held town of Dael, in Deraa Governorate, Syria on February 12, 2016.

Updated Feb 15, 2016

Syrian regime’s strongest ally Russia continued bombing targets in Syria on Friday, despite a temporary “cessation of hostilities” agreement that had been reached during the International Syria Support Group meeting in Munich.

Foreign ministers from the International Syria Support Group agreed on Thursday night to temporarily stop combat in Syria, in an attempt to secure the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged Syrian towns and villages.

The agreement was described by the countries that took part as a rare diplomatic success in a conflict that has fractured the Middle East and killed at least 470,000 Syrians and injured 1,900,000 others, which made up nearly 11.5 percent of the Syrian population, in the five-year-old war.

The war also left 11 million homeless and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing to Europe.

However, it had been said that there was no hope for progress without a pause to the Russian bombing, which has decisively turned the balance of power in favour of Assad regime.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said that if the peace plan fails, more foreign troops could enter the conflict.

"If the Assad regime does not live up to its responsibilities and if the Iranians and the Russians do not hold Assad to the promises that they have made ... then the international community obviously is not going to sit there like fools and watch this," said Kerry, who was in Munich. 

"There will be an increase of activity to put greater pressure on them."

Russian air strikes kills 16 civilians

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that “Despite the agreement we made last night [during Munich talks], Russia continued bombing the civilians. They killed 16 civilians this morning,” while speaking at a panel discussion on the EU and the refugee crisis at the Munich conference on Friday.

The minister described how Russian attacks and government troops ground offensive created a new wave of refugees in numbers of tens of thousands to head towards Turkey.

“They have been targeting schools and hospitals as well,” he said.

“Therefore these people flee from these Russian bombings.”

'Turkey had not closed its doors'

Cavusoglu said that Turkey had not closed its doors to the refugees, with 10,000 arriving in Turkey. However, he said that border controls were in place to control the flow of refugees.

“We did not close the borders… We received 10,000 of them. But due to the security reasons, as Turkey is the first target for DAESH and terrorist organisations in the region, we need to control migration to Turkey.”

Tents have been set up for refugees, currently waiting on the Syrian side of the border, and Turkey has been supplying aid in the run-up to resettling the refugees in new camps.

He reiterated that Turkey has taken in over 2.5 million Syrians and 200,000 Iraqis escaping conflict in their home countries.

However, he warned that the country’s capacity to accept further refugees was stretched.

“Obviously Turkey cannot host another two, three million refugees or asylum seekers,” he said. “Nobody can do that.”

TRTWorld and agencies