Moscow has decided to stop air strikes carried out by its air force and fighters of the Syrian regime on eastern Aleppo yesterday. Russian officials have linked the decision to stop the raids to talks that will be held in Geneva to discuss the UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura’s proposal to withdraw Al-Nusra Front fighters from Aleppo. Despite this, observers believe that the statements of Russian officials leave no doubt that Russia is trying to derail de Mistura’s proposal and exploit it to achieve common goals with the Syrian regime to remove all fighters, including armed members of the moderate opposition, from Aleppo.
The Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu announced that air strikes on eastern Aleppo would stop in a statement that he made yesterday. He linked the new step to talks that will take place in Geneva which will be attended by experts from the countries that took part in the Lausanne talks in Switzerland. With regards to this, Shoygu said that “Russia expects its initiative (to stop the aerial bombardment) to contribute to the success of the work of the military experts in Geneva”. He added that Russian experts have moved to Geneva and that “work there will focus primarily on separating terrorists from the moderate opposition and their withdrawal from the eastern parts Aleppo”.
The Kremlin sees the decision to stop the aerial bombardment of Aleppo as a chance for other parties involved in the Syrian affairs to take the initiative and take specific steps. According to the Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “Moscow is now awaiting efforts by partners in the Syrian arrangement” “to contribute to the humanitarian operation, push the criminals to leave the city of Aleppo and begin the process of separating the so-called moderate opposition from terrorist groups”.