Putin in Syria: Russia Hits Border Crossings As Fighting Breaks Out North Of Aleppo

November 27, 2015

The previous post in our Putin in Syria column can be found here.

Russia Hits Border Crossings As Fighting Breaks Out North Of Aleppo

Russian jets have continued to strike rebel-held areas along Syria’s border with Turkey.

According to the Syrian Local Coordination Committees (LCC), nine civilians, amongst them children, were killed and dozens wounded after air strikes today on the road between Azaz and the al-Salameh border crossing, in the Aleppo province.

Horrific footage has been circulating of casualties from the attack (warning extremely graphic).

Jets struck the same area on Wednesday:

There were also strikes on the road between the Idlib town of Sarmada and the Bab al-Hawa crossing, which itself was bombed yesterday:

Further complicating the situation are reports of fighting breaking out between Islamist-led rebels and Kurdish YPG and Jaish al-Thuwar fighters in the area around the village of Kashtaar, south of Azaz.

From the LCC:

LCC reporter stated that rebels retook over locations which Kurd forces allied with the so called “Rebels Army” sneak into. Rebels launched a counterattack on Shawargha, the villages of Kashta’ar and Malkiya, and Faisal mill in the northern suburb. Clashes took place as well with Kurd forces nearby “Minigh” airport, along with Russian air-strikes on rebels locations.¬†

If open hostilities between Kurdish and other rebel groups continue then the situation in the north of Syria could deteriorate rapidly, especially if Russia takes advantage of this (or even instigates it) in order to outflank rebel fighters in Aleppo, who have already been fighting off ISIS, regime and Iranian ground forces, accompanied by daily Russian air strikes.

Meanwhile rebel fighters, led by the Free Syrian Army’s First Coastal Division retook a summit in the Turkmen mountains just west of the crash site of the Sukhoi Su-24 bomber downed on November 24.

Regime forces, supported by Russian air strikes, had captured Mount Zahiya yesterday.

On the other side of the country, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently reported that jets dropped cluster bombs on the ISIS-held city:

While the report does not say which country’s air force conducted the strike (US and French jets are also conducting operations in this area), Russia is the only force documented to have used cluster bombs in Syria other than the Assad regime.

— Pierre Vaux