Russian MoD: Six people killed in airstrike on Aleppo province village, Belgian F-16 jets operating in the area
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 20:53 UTC
According to information handed over to the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria by the local council of the Syrian city of Afrin, the village of Hassadjek suffered an air attack in which six people died and four more were injured.
The Russian Defense Ministry stressed that neither Russian nor Syrian air forces were carrying out any missions in the area.
At the same time, the ministry said that Russian data recorders detected two Belgian F-16 fighter jets in the area within the specified time.
Russian and Syrian air forces halted airstrikes in Aleppo from 0700 GMT Tuesday for a 48-hour humanitarian pause.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that the ceasefire comes ahead of schedule. The humanitarian pause to allow civilians to leave Aleppo and for the delivery of aid to the city was initially scheduled to start on Thursday and to last for eight hours.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that he expects nations that have influence on the groups opposed to the Syrian Army and entrenched in the eastern part of the city to put pressure on the militants and make them the observe the truce.
Meanwhile, Syrian government forces that control the western part of the city and have encircled the eastern part will provide two corridors for the militants to leave Aleppo with their weapons.
The move by Russian and Syria forces is line with the initiative of UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, who proposed a halt to hostilities in Aleppo to let the terrorist group Al-Nusra Front leave the eastern part of the city under a guarantee of safe passage.
It is also in line with a Russian resolution introduced to the UN Security Council, which backed de Mistura's proposal but was rejected by the other UNSC members.
Comment: Update (Oct. 19): Belgium denied involvement, calling the news "Russian disinformation." The Kremlin, however, is "interested in the reaction of our partners in Europe and Washington."
Hassajek is held by Kurdish militia, and is currently being attacked by Turkey-backed "Free Syrian Army" artillery fire from the north, according to Kurdish sources. After the airstrike that killed six civilians, Daesh launched an offensive on the town from the south, which the Kurds were able to repel. Given the coalition air support provided for the Turkish offensive in the region, it makes sense that they would target this location, notwithstanding Belgium's denials.