The Russian foreign ministry issued the most serious warning yet to the U.S. about intervening against President Assad’s army. The ministry said in a statement that if the US attacks the Syrian military, it “will lead to terrible, tectonic consequences not only on the territory of this country but also in the region on the whole.”
She said regime change in Syria would create a vacuum that would be “quickly filled” by “terrorists of all stripes.”
U.S.-Russian tensions over Syria have escalated since the breakdown of a cease-fire last month, with each side blaming the other for its failure. Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes have launched a major onslaught on rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo.
yrian troops pushed ahead in their offensive in Aleppo on Saturday capturing the strategic Um al-Shuqeef hill near the Palestinian refugee camp of Handarat that government forces captured from rebels earlier this week, according to state TV. The hill is on the northern edge of the Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and former commercial center.
The powerful ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham militant group said rebels regained control Saturday of several positions they lost in Aleppo in the Bustan al-Basha neighborhood.
State media said 13 people were wounded when rebels shelled the central government-held neighborhood of Midan.
Airstrikes on Aleppo struck a hospital in the eastern rebel-held neighborhood of Sakhour putting it out of service, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees. They said one person was killed in the airstrike.
Opposition activist Ahmad Alkhatib described the hospital, known as M10, as one of the largest in Aleppo. He posted photographs on his Twitter account showing the damage including beds covered with dust, a hole in its roof and debris covering the street outside.
A doctor at the hospital told the Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective, that thousands of people were treated in the compound in the past adding that two people were killed in Saturday’s airstrikes and several were wounded.
“A real catastrophe will hit medical institutions in Aleppo if the direct shelling continues to target hospitals and clinics,” said the doctor whose name was not given. He said the whole hospital is out of service.
Opposition activists have blamed the President Bashar Assad’s forces and Russia for airstrikes that hit Civil Defense units and clinics in the city where eastern rebel-held neighborhoods are besieged by government forces and pro-government militiamen.
On Friday, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders demanded that the Syrian government and its allies “halt the indiscriminate bombing that has killed and wounded hundreds of civilians_many of them children,” over the past week in Aleppo.
We apparently have few choices in Syria. We could begin supporting the rebels and try to lift the siege in Aleppo, thus risking a shooting war with Russia. Or we could sit back and do nothing while the rebels are destroyed.
Putin and Assad will spin any victory in Aleppo as a devastating blow to U.S. prestige. They’d be right — although during the Obama years, American “prestige” has been deliberately damaged because the administration believes we don’t deserve to be highly thought of. That said, the looming defeat of the rebels in their last urban bastion will signal the virtual end of the rebellion. The opposition to Assad will hold small, insignificant villages and some of the rural areas — and not much else.
Some congressional hawks have been urging military intervention against Assad. But the whole point of Russia’s support for Assad is to make sure he survives. Any effort by the U.S. to remove the Syrian dictator would be met with military action against our forces by the Russians.
And that would start a war with unpredictable outcomes.