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Hunger Adds to Suffering in Aleppo as Moscow Asserts Ceasefire Will Last | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Commercial Turkish trucks wait to cross to Syria near the Cilvegozu border gate, located opposite the Syrian commercial crossing point Bab al-Hawa in Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey, September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Beirut-The Pentagon said Friday that dozens of U.S. Special Operations Forces have been deployed on Syria’s border with Turkey to fight ISIS in support of Turkey’s army and moderate Syrian rebels.

A Pentagon Spokesperson said the U.S. decision was made at Turkey’s request.

However, these U.S. forces were not welcomed by opposition factions allied with Ankara, as they were kicked out of the city of Ar Rai, at the Turkish borders with northern Aleppo.

This new development coincided with sources describing the fourth day of the Syrian ceasefire as being the “worst,” in the presence of several military violations in many Syrian areas.

Head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami (SOHR) Abdel Rahman told Asharq Al-Awsat that six civilians were killed during the past two days, including three in the province of Idlib, two in Aleppo and one in al-Qunaitra. He added that at least three opposition fighters were also killed.

Head of the High Negotiations Committee Asaad al-Zoghbi told Ahsarq Al-Awsat: “From the begining, there has never been a ceasefire to later discuss whether it had collapsed.”

Al-Zoghbi said the Syrian opposition “might be trying to use the ceasefire to provide the needed environment for delivering aid to besieged areas.”

Meanwhile, humanitarian convoys were still stuck at the Turkish-Syrian borders waiting for the Syrian regime to allow them to enter the besieged and hungry city of Aleppo, amid U.S.-Russian tension regarding the implementation of the ceasefire.

The aid’s presence outside Aleppo explains why none of the parties, especially the opposition, had yet announced the collapse of the ceasefire.

Fierce battles escalated on Friday between regime forces and opposition armed groups.

The SOHR said more than 21 shells and rockets hit parts of Jobar.

The Observatory added two shells also hit the Bab al-Sharqi neighborhood of Damascus but did not result in any casualties.

A Syrian regime military source told AFP: “The Syrian army is blocking an attack by armed groups that tried to enter the capital’s east via Jobar… leading to intense clashes and rocket fire.”

Meanwhile, while Moscow had asserted that Syrian troops had withdrawn from the Castello Road, from where humanitarian aid was supposed to pass, Russia said on Friday these forces had to return, claiming opposition forces had launched an attack.

Opposition forces and Washington had doubted Syrian troops would withdraw from the Castello Road. The Free Syrian Army had asked for a map detailing the redeployment of regime forces to prove their withdrawal.

On Friday, Russia announced that only Moscow and the Syrian regime were respecting the ceasefire.

“Although the ceasefire agreement is bilateral, only one side is truly implementing it,” defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

However, Moscow said it was still ready to extend the truce set to expire late Friday by 72 hours.