Up to 10,000 al-Nusra Front terrorists have deployed near the Syrian city of Aleppo ahead of a major offensive, according to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.
Along with ISIS, al-Nusra is not party to the six-week old ceasefire being monitored by Russia and the US, and remains a legitimate target.
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“According to our intelligence, about 8,000 al-Nusra Front militants have been deployed south-west of Aleppo, while up to 1,500 militants have been deployed north of the city,” Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy said Monday.
“It is known that a large-scale offensive is planned [by al-Nusra terrorists] to cut the road linking Aleppo and Damascus,” Sergei Rudskoy said Monday.
He added that al-Nusra Front has been fighting to the north and south of Aleppo.
Syrian government forces are not planning to storm Aleppo, their efforts are focused on preventing a blockade of northern Syria, Sergei Rudskoy said.
“Terrorists continue attacks on Sheikh Maqsoud and al-Zagra on the outskirts of Aleppo,” head of the General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate Rudskoy said.
“If these attacks are successful, the northern parts of Syria could fall under blockade again. That’s why all actions by the Syrian army and the Russian aviation are aimed now at thwarting al-Nusra Front’s plans. No storming of the city of Aleppo is being planned,” the general stressed.
The flow of weaponry and militants reinforcing al-Nusra Front terrorist group continues across the Turkish-Syrian border, including through areas controlled by US-backed opposition groups, the Russian General Staff said.
“Despite the progress in the implementation of the ceasefire regime, the supplies of weapons and militants from the Turkish side [of the border] to reinforce al-Nusra Front terrorists continue, including through areas controlled by US-backed opposition groups.“
Russia has asked the United States to curb massing of militants near Aleppo, Rudskoy said.
According to Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader Halqi, the Syrian army supported by the Russian combat aircraft were planning to take control over Aleppo.
The number of settlements that have joined ceasefire regime in Syria has increased to 61, the Russian General Staff said Monday.
Russia fully complies with its obligations on the agreement with the US on the cessation of hostilities in Syria, Rudskoy said.
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