Moscow, Beirut – China and Russia vetoed on Monday a U.N. Security Council resolution drafted by Spain, Egypt and New Zealand demanding a seven-day truce in Aleppo, Syria.
Russia said it blocked the resolution that would allow rebels to regroup, saying time was needed for talks between Washington and Moscow.
However, the comments of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday revealed that Moscow insists on recuperating “the entire Aleppo” and the withdrawal of all armed opposition factions from the city. Meanwhile, Idlib fears it would face a fate similar to Aleppo after Syria’s regime forces backed by Russia, started attacking the city.
On Monday, Lavrov revealed that Russian and U.S. experts would hold talks on the situation in Aleppo next week in Geneva.
“During the Russian-American consultations concrete routes and timing of the withdrawal of all militants from eastern Aleppo will be discussed. Once we reach an agreement, a ceasefire will be put in place,” Lavrov said
The Russian foreign minister said any armed group that refuses to leave Aleppo would be treated by Russia as terrorists, adding that Moscow will support the Syrian Army’s operations against them.
The Syrian armed opposition was quick in responding to Lavrov’s comments. Two armed factions in Aleppo announced on Monday they will fight in the city until the end.
Meanwhile, the Syrian regime benefits from the international preoccupation in the Aleppo battle to reinforce its pressure on Idlib, where people live under the fear of facing a fate similar to Aleppo after reports said Idlib would be the regime’s next battle.
Despite calm witnessed at the Idlib fronts controlled by opposition factions, the city has been subject to a military campaign launched by the regime and Russia two weeks ago.
Military commander in Idlib Abu Ali Abdel-Wahab told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that opposition factions clearly realize that regime forces were planning to open a new front in Idlib, which has lately become a humanitarian container for rebels with medium range military equipment.
Abdel-Wahab said there are attempts to unite the ranks of opposition factions operating in the province to better face any regime attack.
Head of the Idlib provincial council Ghassan Hamou told Asharq Al-Awsat: “There is no doubt that Aleppo represents a front line to Idlib. If Aleppo falls, Idlib will be the next battle.”
A large number of Syrian refugees have moved to Idlib. According to Hamou, there were around 1.1 million Syrians living in the governorate. Around 1.5 million refugees have joined them, he said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that regime and Russia’s warplanes were increasingly committing massacres against Idlib residents. Since Nov. 20, the observatory said 1,300 were killed and injured in the province.
On Monday, Sham Network also reported that Russian warplanes pounded several cities and towns in the Idlib province, by launching more than 20 assaults with explosive barrels against several areas. Several civilians were killed and injured, it said.