Damascus intends to “liberate” Aleppo from “illegal armed groups,” said Syria’s Prime Minister Wael al-Halaki during talks with a delegation of Russian lawmakers.
His statement comes ahead of another round of negotiations with the rebel forces scheduled to begin on Wednesday in Geneva.
The Prime Minister said the operation will be done “together with our Russian partners” against “all illegal armed groups which have not joined or have broken the ceasefire deal” while Dmitry Sablin, a member of the Russian upper house of parliament, said their air force “will help” Syrian forces ground offensive operation.
The ceasefire has been the longest respected agreement in Syria since it began on February 27 amid numerous violations. However, it could soon be sidelined after a member of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) Bassama Kodmani said “over the last 10 days, we have seen a very serious deterioration and the ceasefire is about to collapse.”
The ceasefire does not include al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, and ISIS.
Information minister Omaran al Zoubi said the government’s planned operations in Aleppo were not violating the ceasefire because its al-Nusra Front’s operating ground together with its allies. He said the operations would be on a “large-scale and continuous.”
It seems as if the operation might have already begun as Mohamed Rasheed, media officer of Jaysh al-Nasr rebel group, stated that “the airstrikes are now roughly back to what they were.” The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that at least 16 pro-regime fighters and 19 members of Al-Nusra Front and allied rebel groups have been killed over the weekend in Aleppo.