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Lt. General: Russian Military Jets Not Involved in Decisive Assaults on Aleppo


Sergei Rudskoy

Sergei Rudskoy

Chief of the Russian General Staff Main

“All of this is achieved by Syrian ground troops…Russian aviation in the Aleppo area has not been used since October 18.”

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Monitors say Russian military conducted air campaigns

At a news briefing on December 9, 2016, Russian Lt. General Sergei Rudskoy told reporters that “Russian aviation in the Aleppo area has not been used since October 18.”

Rudskoy also said that gains in pushing Syrian rebels from Aleppo have been "achieved by the Syrian ground troops.”

That date is significant because on October 18, Russia and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad instituted a humanitarian pause to allow for evacuations.

But independent groups monitoring air strikes on Aleppo and its surroundings dispute Rudskoy's statements and say the aerial pause by Syrian and Russian aircraft was short-lived.

In a December 15, 2016 e-mail to Polygraph.info, Chris Woods, the director of a London-based, not-for-profit, monitoring group Airwars said: “Claims that Russia and the Assad regime have conducted no airstrikes on Aleppo city since October 18 are untrue.

“While we did see a steep temporary fall in Aleppo strikes, the first reports of attacks resumed on October 22,” he wrote. “A total of 299 alleged Russian civilian casualty events in Syria were tracked by Airwars’ researchers between October 18th and December 12th 2016. Some 61 per cent of these (183 events) were reported for Aleppo city and the wider governorate. In total, between 659 and 883 deaths are alleged from these Aleppo strikes.”

Analyst Jonathan Mautner at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington described in a December 15, 2016 e-mail to Polygraph.info how Russia's resumption of bombings in November were directed at rebel strongholds.

“Russia resumed its air operations against opposition-held districts of Aleppo City on November 15," he said. "Russia ultimately used its air power in order to facilitate the advance of pro-regime forces into opposition-held Aleppo City beginning on November 26, conducting targeted airstrikes against the northeastern quarter of the city.”

Airwars' Woods told Polygraph.info that its daily airstrike logs are collected, in part, from ground observers, aid groups and others in Aleppo, along with social media postings.

Woods said the website Syria News Desk, which has reporters across Syria, reported that on November 29 that “28 civilians were killed and more than 40 others were wounded this morning, due to Russian warplanes targeting with parachute bombs the neighborhood of Bab al-Nairab under the control of the opposition in Aleppo.”

The final weeks’ waves of Russian airstrikes, according to Mautner, focused on Aleppo’s residential areas.

“At the same time, Russia also intensified its air operations against schools, markets, and other civilian infrastructure in opposition suburbs in Aleppo, punishing the opposition for its continued resistance in Aleppo City and precipitating its surrender on December 13,” he said.

"In sum, ISW assesses that Russia has been conducting airstrikes against Aleppo City since November 15, notwithstanding activist or Russian claims to the contrary,” Mautner said.

A check by Polygraph.info of news reports in language found that while there have been occasional stories in Syrian state-run media of Syrian air attacks on the Aleppo region, Russian officials and Kremlin-backed media have not acknowledged Syrian or Russian air participation since mid-October.

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