Live Updates: The Russian Ministry of Defence has announced a humanitarian operation in Syria aimed at providing aid for regime-controlled areas of Deir ez-Zor that are besieged by ISIS.
While Russia has been publicising their humanitarian operation to supply Deir ez-Zor, air strikes have continued across the country with Russian jets reported to have killed more than a dozen civilians.
According to the Syrian Local Coordination Committees (LCC), Russian jets conducted more than 10 air strikes on Deir al-Asafir, southeast of Damascus, killing eight civilians and wounding more than 20.
Sakir Khader, a reporter for the Dutch daily de Volkskrant, relayed this footage of a strike on a mosque in the village:
To the south of Damascus, the LCC reported four air strikes on Sheikh Maskin in the Daraa province.
The Russian Air Force continued its intense support for regime ground forces in Latakia, who are advancing after the fall of Salma on Tuesday. Turkey’s Daily Sabah reports that around 2,000 bombs were dropped on and around the town this week.
According to the LCC, Russian jets provided air support today as regime forces shelled villages on Jabal al-Akrad with cluster munitions.
To the northwest, Russian aircraft and regime shelling targeted the town of Rabia in the Jabal Turkman area, nearer the Turkish border.
The LCC also reports Russian air strikes in the Aleppo and Hama provinces, with attacks near the village of Malkiyah and the highway between the border town of Azaz and Aleppo city as well as Aqrab, northwest of Homs.
In Aleppo itself, Russian jets reportedly bombed the rebel-held Sukkari neighbourhood, in the southwest of the city near the front line with regime forces.
To the east of Aleppo the Russian Air Force struck two settlements held by ISIS.
We have matched the location seen in the footage with satellite images and can confirm this drop took place just west of Deiz ez-Zor:
As we can see in the footage, the aircraft belongs to the Syrian Air Force. But the Russian Ministry of Defence said today that they had provided the parachute cargo system used in the drop.
But the decision to drop one aircraft-load of supplies by parachute is surprising, given that government forces still control Deir ez-Zor airport. ISIS has made several attempts to seize the airfield but has met with failure.
The move seems to be as much for publicity, at a time when international attention is focused on the siege of Madaya, as it is to support the regime-held pocket here.
— Pierre Vaux
Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reports that the Russian General Staff has decided to commence a ‘humanitarian operation’ in Syria.
The news comes as international media has finally focused on the plight of the starving residents of Madaya, a town in the Damascus province that is under siege by the forces of the Assad regime.
An aid convoy did make it through to the town after months of siege and repeated rejections of permission from the government, but the situation remains dire, with multiple deaths from malnutrition reported every day.
While Russia is backing the regime to the hilt and even boasting about the commencement of joint air operations with the very forces starving Madaya, the General Staff’s plan announced today is to provide support to regime-controlled areas of Deir ez-Zor in the east of the country.
The regime currently controls a small pocket of territory in the north and west of the city, with ISIS controlling most of the urban area and encircling the surrounding countryside.
General-Lieutenant Sergei Rudskoy said today that Russian Il-76 military transport jets had already dropped 22 tonnes of humanitarian aid by parachute over besieged areas of Deir ez-Zor.