The Latest: Airstrikes kill 15 civilians in Syria’s Aleppo – Washington Post

BEIRUT — The Latest on the developments in Syria’s civil war after Russian warplanes took off on Tuesday from Iran to bomb Islamic State militants in Syria (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

Syrian opposition monitoring groups are reporting that a wave of airstrikes on rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo have killed at least 15 civilians and wounded many others.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the airstrikes killed at least 19 civilians, including three children, in two neighborhoods.

The Local Coordination Committees says 15 civilians were killed.

The LCC says the warplanes that carried out the airstrikes Tuesday were Russian, while the Observatory says it was not immediately clear.

The Observatory says Russian airstrikes on the southern edge of Aleppo, targeting the route leading into eastern rebel-held parts of the city, killed 12 militants Tuesday.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, has been the center of fighting over the past months. The city has been contested since 2012.


1:50 p.m.

Iran’s Shahid Nojeh Air Base, from where Russian aircraft likely took off to bomb Syria in the latest airstrikes by Moscow, has seen Russian aircraft land there before.

A report in December by the American Enterprise Institute, based off satellite imagery, suggests the air base saw a Russian Su-34 “Fullback” strike fighter land there in late November. It said a Russian Il-76 “Candid” transport plane also landed there around the same time before both took off, suggesting the Su-34 may have suffered a mechanical issue.

The report described the air base as “quite large with a 15,000-foot (4,572-meter) runway, extensive taxiways and multiple hangars and bunkers — all seemingly in good repair.”

The report says it’s “ideal for providing covert ground support to Russian combat missions.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday that Russian warplanes have taken off from a base in Iran to target Islamic State fighters in Syria.


1:45 p.m.

A senior Syrian opposition official says the latest Russian airstrikes in Syria, with warplanes taking off from Iran, aims to show Moscow internationally as “a power with teeth.”

George Sabra of the High Negotiations Committee told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Russia is proving it’s not qualified to play any role in attempts to end Syria’s five-year war.

Sabra says Moscow took advantage of the vacuum left behind by the West in the Middle East and is using Syria to show that Moscow has goals “not only in Syria but in the region and internationally as well.”

Russian warplanes took off on Tuesday from a base in Iran to target Islamic State fighters and other militants in Syria, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.


1:25 p.m.

An international rights group says the joint Syrian government and Russian military operation has been using incendiary weapons in civilian areas in northern Syria in violation of international law.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Tuesday that the munitions, which can cause excruciating and often fatal burns, have been used at least 18 times over the past six weeks.

Moscow has denied using such weapons in Syria.

Steve Goose, arms director at HRW, says the “Syrian government and Russia should immediately stop attacking civilian areas with incendiary weapons.”

HRW says a review of photographs and videos recorded at the time of attack and of the remnants afterward indicates there were at least 18 such attacks in Aleppo and Idlib between June 5 and August 10.


1:10 p.m.

A top Russian lawmaker says Russia’s decision to use a base in Iran for its operation against Islamic State fighters in Syria will help to cut costs.

Before, Moscow only used facilities in Russia and in the government-controlled areas in Syria for its missions in the Arab country.

The Interfax news agency on Tuesday quoted Adm. Vladimir Komoyedov, former commander of the Black Sea fleet and a State Duma Deputy, as saying that using facilities in Iran is a good way for Russia to cut costs.

He is quoted as saying that “the issue of costs for combat actions is paramount right now, we should stick to the current defense ministry budget.”

Komoyedov also says “Tu-22 flights from Iran means less fuel and a bigger bomb load” but the downside of taking off from a base in Syria is that warplanes have to fly over the combat zone.


12:50 p.m.

In a first, Iran has allowed Russia to use one of its bases to stage and take off for attacks inside Syria — something unheard of in modern times in the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s constitution, ratified after its 1979 Islamic Revolution, bans the establishment of any foreign military base in the country. However, nothing bars Iranian officials from allowing foreign countries to use an airfield.

In Tehran, the state-run IRNA news agency quoted Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, as saying on Tuesday that Tehran and Moscow have exchanged “capacity and possibilities” in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Shamkhahi says: “With constructive and extended cooperation between Iran, Russia and Syria and the resistance front (Hezbollah), the situation has become very tough for terrorists and the trend will continue until the complete destruction of them.”


11:50 a.m.

Russia’s Defense Ministry says that Russian warplanes have taken off from a base in Iran to target Islamic State fighters in Syria.

Tuesday’s announcement marks a major development in the efforts against the Sunni militant group. Russia has never used the territory of another country in the Middle East — except Syria — for its operations inside Syria before this.

The ministry’s statement says Su-34 and Tu-22M3 bombers took off earlier in the day to target Islamic State and the Nusra Front militants in Aleppo, as well as in Deir el-Zor and Idlib, destroying five major ammunition depots, training camps and three command posts.

Russia and Iran have been expanding their ties in the past months after most of the sanctions against Iran were lifted.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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