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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How we "Know" Russia or Syria Bombed the Aleppo Aid Convoy

How we "Know" Russia or Syria Bombed the Aleppo Aid Convoy
September 21-25, 2016

Notes: Sept. 21: This seemed urgent enough to rush a bit and post it with typos, incomplete spots, and probably a few things I forgot, or don't know yet. I'll make it a short 2-3-days-til done post, and  plan for a part 2 fairly soon after. Sept. 22: Since this is getting viewed around (example: slightly different unauthorized but a-ok re-post of the rough version at 21st Century Wire !) ... I should get this finalized quick. Sept. 25: Finally added notes and stuff. See Sept. 25 below.

Sept. 30: This being about questioning the Russia blame, a sort of part 2 relates a simple proof that the best proof of Russian bombing actually proves local rebels were behind at least some of the firing.

Washington's Meaningless Confidence
One of the damaged trucks (Aleppo Media Center)
On September 19, someone attacked a convoy of trucks delivering aid to a rebel-held area of rural Aleppo province. Anti-government activists were emphatic there were helicopters dropping barrel bombs, and perhaps surface-fired missiles, followed by fighter jet strikes, which also used cluster bombs and-or machine gunned the area, keeping rebel help at bay so more witnesses would bleed to death.

A video seems to be consistent with that (see below), but it's really not clear at all. Images showed trucks damaged by small-scale shrapnel (and/or bullets?) and gutted by fire - analysis of imagery and reports is well underway at A Closer Look On Syria. We're still far from a clear reading, but from minute one the US has been quite clear the activist version was about right. An unnamed official told the Washington Post

“We know it was an airstrike and not one from the coalition. We don’t know if it was Russia or the regime,” the only others flying over Syria, a senior administration official said. “In either case, the Russians have a responsibility certainly to avoid doing it themselves, but also to keep restraint on the regime.”
We know this? It's not explained how. It sounds like the model of aircraft isn't known, nor whose they were, just that they were present, in the air, and not ours. But another unnamed official said "two Russian SU-24 attack aircraft were in the sky above the convoy at the precise moment it was hit in Urum al-Kubra." (BBC) This sounds like detailed findings including radar, but it could also be just empty words. The official also noted the strike "was too sophisticated to have been carried out by the Syrian army." Is it really excess sophistication? Or just that they just want to blame Russia specifically at this time?

There will be no radar proof brought forth, probably because they were watching and saw no movements. Most likely, this is nothing but circular reasoning - there was an alleged airstrike that must have been the Russians, and they would use SU-24 jets, as usual, operating in pairs. But it will be read as independent proof. "it happened while Russian jets were overhead? Obvious Putin crime! 

The US says it's very certain. Uh-huh. A couple days earlier they were just as clear their aircraft were massacring  Islamic State fighters near Deir Ezzour -  in an area they, and not the Syrian army, normally held. After killing or wounding nearly 200 Syrian soldiers manning a well-known army-held position (see right), they stopped over Russia's protest. Now they're now trying to become sure those were Assad prisoners turned into unwilling soldiers, and/or dressed up as ISIS and put in a crucial spot in the hopes the US would kill them and get embarrassed. But it never works. The US these days seems to be far above shame or embarrassment, as they and their minions team up to mint custom-made realities daily. (See ACLOS)

The point is - we can't trust Washington's unnamed officials when they say what they believe to be the case. They're telling us to believe their mistake story, but they don't swallow that poison themselves. So, are they lying here as well? Especially when that lie would come so soon after and helps distract from the above-mentioned incident?
Russia's Side of the Story
Russian defense ministry said there were no Russian or Syrian flights at the time
But Russia, which denied its aircraft or those of its Syrian government allies were involved, said on Tuesday it believed the convoy was not struck from the air at all but had caught fire because of some incident on the ground.

"There are no craters and the exterior of the vehicles do not have the kind of damage consistent with blasts caused by bombs dropped from the air," a statement from the defence ministry said.

Russian MoD found rebel large caliber mortar on a pickup truck moving with the convoy
(as far as I can tell, this is simply a reminder of the kind of weaponry all over the place, which could in fact have been the ground-based murder weapons.)

After Russia's protests, the UN changed its wording of its statement:
After the Russian explanation, the U.N. put out a revised version of an earlier statement, removing wording on “air strikes” and replacing it with references to unspecified “attacks”.
UN humanitarian spokesman Jens Laerke said the references to air strikes in the original statement, attributed to the top UN humanitarian officials in the region and in Syria, were probably the result of a drafting error.
"We are not in a position to determine whether these were in fact air strikes. We are in a position to say that the convoy was attacked," he said.
They added a wrinkle by then noting a US "Predator" drone was flying over the area at the time (RT report). This needs assessed. The alleged track is shown at right (how to read it is another story...), and one supporting argument of potential value is considered below (see also ACLOS talk section).

However, most media and western government sources insist airstrike is evidently true, and it must be Russia or someone they're the bosses of.

Tracked by the Russians - into Terrorist Turf
Some have noted as suspicious how Russia had a surveillance drone to monitor the cease-fire, that happened to pass over the convoy as it sat parked -Elizabeth Tsurkov tweeted how "Russian drones w  cameras followed the convoy's movements." She implies they were tracking to kill, but then they released the video proof of their plot.

Moscow's take: 
"Around 13:40 Moscow time (10:40 GMT) the aid convoy successfully reached the destination. The Russian side did not monitor the convoy after this and its movements were only known by the militants who were in control of the area,” Konashenkov added.
(13:40 will be the same 1:40 pm in both Moscow and Damascus.) 

The scene: the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) convoy of some 30 trucks set out from government-held west Aleppo, headed southwest into Islamist rebel held territory, which starts almost immediately past the city. (time: around 11:30). They passed through Khan al-Assal and Kafr Naha, and at least some of the trucks arrived at a warehouse about two kilometers further west, just east of Urm al-Kubra in the early afternoon. They remained parked there until nightfall, when the attack occurred. The map below shows where they were seen driving through Kafr Naha and where the attack happened. 

The black area in detail, compared to screen shots from the Russian drone video (the ^ points north)

The left-hand image shows the parking-attack site. The sunlight there is at an azimuth of about 225 degrees, which equates to a time of around 1:30-1:40 pm, the arrival time cited (meaning this was their source). They were clearly parked on the side and not moving. various clues in daylight images compared to satellite views make it clear this is the same spot the attack happened, referred to as a center of the Red Crescent (or "Syrian Crescent," but not "Syrian Christains" as some have heard...). So they-were still parked at 7:30 or so when the incident happened.

The destination known to the Russians at 1:40 was the same spot they would be attacked. So they didn't "track" it with the one short span, but it didn't move after last seen. So the Russians did know where it was, although they might not have known they knew it.

Their jets could likely confirm this just before any attack. It's not an issue. If the Russians were for brazenly murdering aid workers in a crime they could hardly deny, they could have easily found the target. It's plain disturbing how that doesn't register as an "if" to so many. "Of course Putin would do that, and obviously did!"

Who decided to keep the convoy there, only partly unloaded by nightfall? Local authorities, of course. They say about 12 people were killed, and about 18 wounded but lived, and probably a few unharmed in the attack. There should be some 31 drivers, any workers who came with them, any loaders sent by the local authorities, and whoever else.  Only about 30 people impacted, when all trucks were torched, some distorted and some torn by shrapnel or bullets ... a very deadly scene, but not a lot of deaths suggests not a lot of people. This might be a small crew, making unloading slow.

Who kept them in a known spot until it was dark, when someone killed them, and videos can't prove who as easily?  Who didn't send more help, letting the offloading drag on so late? Was it someone who wanted to world to see a lot of aid destroyed by Assad-Putin? Someone like this Muslim Brotherhod-looking guy picking up pieces of human flesh to wave at the camera as he explains the results of his own investigation? Are these really trustworthy people? (video source)

Foreign-supported, anti-government, Islamist rebels administered this whole area, and helped set up the circumstances. Did they and their allies set up the rest of it as well? The location would be known to that Russian drone, and to any Russians who mattered. But it would be even more surely known about by FSA-linked Islamist false-flag units, to every terrorist with a mortar or rocket launcher in the area.So, we'd better hope there's finally some real proof it was something flying that did it.

The lauded "White Helmets" were involved and cited as one source convincing the US there was an "aitstrike". But they don't seem to save anyone here, that we see. They have explanations why. The SARC, by the way, are non-Islamist "competitors" to the White helmets, and maintain relations with the Syrian government (so to some, they're "agents of the regime.")

But the terrorists and their supporters were clear it was a jet/helicopter/both, from Russia or Syria or both/whatever/not us. Uh-huh. Hell, they could have just raided the place, robbed and executed the aid workers, torched the trucks, and lobbed a few shells on it afterwards. Hypothetically. We're still waiting to hear survivor stories, from verified witnesses, allowed to speak (unlikely). And besides, all of them   would pass through White Helmets hands first. Incriminating videos could be deleted from their phones, etc.

Video Support?
The order of attack seems to be: alleged barrel bomb attack from helicopter -follow-up alleged attack by jets. A basic night-time attack video sees  fires already, then two two powerful blasts, preceded by a whooshing sound, followed by ambiguous cries of Allahu Akbar. That could be a jet sound, real or dubbed in, or a rocket sound, perhaps. I'm not expert enough to call that point yet. That's evidence, but not proof, at least to me. Unlike video fakery, audio forgery is very easy. There's still no video for the helicopter part that first got the trucks burning. That would be harder to fake. Further video and another video shows continued explosions, with no discernable jet sounds, and still no helicopters.

Scene Analysis
Analysis of the scene and damage is not cited as a reason to blame an "airstrike." It seems unneeded, with all the unexplained total proof they must have. But people are looking.
Photo collection on Facebook 

As Russia's MoD noted, and we at ACLOS so far agree, there doesn't seem to be a single crater in the available images, from an alleged 2-4 barrel bombs plus jet missiles. The road seems unnaturally smooth, as well as wet. It's seen being bulldozed a bit, and sprayed down with water for no clear reason. it seems filled-in and re-graded by morning, making it hard to read any craters for direction of fire, etc. 
Further, Moscow is apt to note simply fire seems to be an issue. It's odd how most trucks, at least those along the highway, just completely burned - this could be from the attack alone, or precede it, in a similar effort to destroy evidence.  There is plenty of evidence of shrapnel damage, and some pressure-waves of a powerful blast, but no signs of any barrel bomb or other munition remains. They'd say these were gathered as evidence, which actually ruins them as evidence. They'll have something they blame.It'll it their claims. Who knows if it had anything to do with this attack.

This photo shows an area of shrapnel marks that will be analyzed.Etc. I plan to come back with a part two for this when there's some findings. They may be small, or not. We'll see. 

How They Really Know 
In a statement issued late Monday, the State Department said, “The destination of this convoy was known to the Syrian regime and the Russian federation and yet these aid workers were killed in their attempt to provide relief to the Syrian people.” They don't and can't explain how Russia's awareness was supposed to equate with total protection - they have no say over what the US-backed  terrorists do or don't do - this only works with a complete presumption that it was an airstrike. To me, so far, this seems to be a completely unfounded - and thus criminal - presumption. 

The motive was revealed by another unnamed US official recently. In a candid comment to the Daily Beast, that person said the United States had "helped" the OPCW uncover "on its own" evidence for Syria's alleged use of chlorine gas, which the agency then did. This was done, the intelligence official said,  “to work through the slow UN process, get the Russians to a place where they’re cornered diplomatically,” into abandoning support for the Syrian government. 

This latest  move fits that profile splendidly. A convoy full of aid and aid workers is blown to bits. So long as we presume it came from the air, and it couldn't possibly be anyone on the US side ... Russia is held to accou8nt. If they did it, they're to blame. The only other option ... left as an option! Those were Syrian SU-24s, and Russia admits Damascus is bad, and abandons "Assad" militarily, and starts helping with the desired outcome of regime change. How's that for an attempt at getting the Russian "cornered?"

September 25: 
It took longer than I thought it would to decide I at least don't feel I have this case grasped just yet. There are some good points and ideas in the ACLOS pages. Some highlights in review:

We finally found a crater, but it's inside the warehouse. It's got a tail assembly at least of a Russian bomb, OFAB-250 model, and it's below a neat hole in the roof. But it's also in a crater of a smaller weapon (too small a crater if this bomb detonated, and too big for it didn't) and it's right next to a pile of lightly damaged cardboard boxes - that seem shredded by shrapnel from a very different weapon.
And we can see the Russian afternoon drone video the hole was not there earlier in the day, but happened during the time of the attack or thereabouts.  So ... ?? This is the kind of thing that'll need more review. At least for me it will. (rambling multi-topic discussion)

- Other damage clues seem about as they were - general fire and minor damage, some pressure waves suggested and surrounding damage connected. I'm mapping the scene and getting a feel  for how many different blast centers of what types we might be seeing. Conclusions, if any, at a later date.

- Predator drone - an interesting argument lodged as a comment at Moon of Alabama was elevated to an article at the Duran for weapons used being a match for a Predator - sparkling detonation suggests Metal-Augmented Charge (MAC) Hellfire AGM-114N - I can't confirm this yet, but the ACLOS section should be worth watching. One point worth noting here, from the comments of "PavewayIV"
Just to set the stage for the next chapter of lies, CENTCOM or the U.S. DoD will undoubtedly deny that a U.S. drone attacked the convoy (not that any journalist will bother asking). AS we saw in the SAA/Deir EzZor attack though, it’s not necessarily a U.S. aircraft. The U.S. can deny responsibility if needed because 1) any of a number of ‘coalition partners’ have Hellfire-armed Predators violating Syrian airspace every day, and 2) all Predators of coalition partners are not necessarily under the command of their military or the CJTF-OIR coalition. The CIA, for instance, has plenty of armed drones in the Middle East. Not that these potential loopholes will be needed or used – the U.S. isn’t bashful about flinging outright lies when convenient and difficult to disprove.
- An apparent lack of surviving witnesses may prove a central point. First it was said just one Red Crescent member, the director Omar Barakat, died, and about 10-12 other non-SARC people. Later it was said several SARC prsonnel died, among about 20 people total. Then the FSA alerted us 31 had died - 12 SARC members and 19 "civilians." It seems almost like everyone died in the attack or died later, before getting to tell their side of the story. (talk section) This might not be the case, but it remains disturbingly possible as we still hear nothing about the survivors or if there were any. All cited witnesses are of the White Helmets variety, responding after the fact, or one vague "aid worker" who sounds exactly like them. I'm looking into this, hoping to contact the SARC directly.

- A Washington Post article adds:
According to a handwritten ledger kept by the Red Crescent, the youngest victim of Monday’s attack was 16-year-old Taqi Hashim. Five of the most grievously injured, including a 14-year-old, are from one family, the Najeebs. 
But I could find no other reports mentioning Taqi or the Najeebs, in English or Arabic spellings. I'll be asking about this "handwritten ledger." This is the first I've heard about wounded but living people, and it includes the kind of 'several men of one family' so often killed all at once by 'regime shelling' in rebel-held areas.

- SoS John Kerry trying to twist Russia's words to look crazy makes him look foolish, with his "parallel universe" and "spontaneous combustion" comments, then echoed as Russia's own loony claim (see here).

- Russian drone footage, timing refined - images show the convoy around 1:40 pm (I missed something, and had 2:20 pm), so the video was apparently Russia's source citing arrival by then. An earlier scene in Khan al-Assal (where the mortar truck passes) is about 1:08 pm. The propagandists at the Interpreter rag failed badly at reading this and put all images "very close to sundown" (which was 6:38 pm) or even later, in a number of fancy and totally wrong methods. (see here and judge for yourself)
- One supposed Red Crescent worker anonymously told the Guardian that others "were too scared to share what they had seen, fearing punishment from Syrian officials." But another member willing to put his own name on his words, has a different-sounding take. Wael al Malas, described as "the representative of the Syrian branch of the Red Crescent" spoke to Russia's Izvestiya newspaper\, saying:
"There is no evidence that it was an airstrike of either Russian or Syrian aviation on the humanitarian convoy in Syria. ... On the contrary, everything points to it being the militants of the terrorist organizations who exploded and set on fire the trucks of the convoy." (Sputnik
- Motive: I didn't cover this well yet, and it's still a bit complex. Apparently, things have been set up so a disruption of or attack on aid deliveries would block implementation of the cease-fire, and related US-Russia coordination against not just Islamic State but Jabhat al-Nusra as well. This being what Russia has long fought for, why wold they go out of their way to scuttle it? By way of a shortcut, I'll cite b at Moon of Alabama
I don't know what really happened.

But independent from what happened is the question of motive.

Why would the Syrian Air Force attack the Syrian Red Crescent with which it has good relations and which also works in all government held areas? Why would the Syrian or Russian forces attack a convoy which earlier had passed through government held areas and checkpoints and was thereby not carrying contraband? I find no plausible reason or motive for such an attack. Nor has anyone else come forward with such.

A few days ago the "rebels" had accused the UN, which had goods on the convoy, of partisanship and said they would boycott it. "Rebels" in east Aleppo had demonstrated against UN provided help and said they would reject it. There was a general rejection of the ceasefire by the "rebels" and they were eager to push for a wider and bigger war against Syria and its allies. Al-Qaeda in Syria even made a video against the ceasefire. A part of the ceasefire deal is to commonly fight al-Qaeda. They naturally want the deal to end. The attack on the aid convoy seems to help their case.
The motive argument makes an attack by the "rebels" plausible and an attack by Syria and its allies implausible.
The Pentagon red-lights any military cooperation with Russia, Kerry demands a "no-fly zone" in response, and we're still distracted from the Deir Ezzour incident. (By way of an update, that same mountain has just been overrun again by Islamic State, and an excellent analysis from Gareth Porter is now in.)


  1. Anti-government activists were emphatic the helicopters dropping barrel bombs, followed by fighter jet strikes, ….

    Ammar al-Salmo, a volunteer search-and-rescue worker from the Syria Civil Defence, was in the area at the time and told Human Rights Watch: "We heard helicopters in the air just before the attack.

    el director la Defensa Civil en esta regiĆ³n, Ammar Alsalmo.


    Alsalmo stressed that Auram al Kubra is "strategic" as it passes the road linking the north and west of the region of Aleppo.

    Salmo of the White Helmets told Al Jazeera there were now only two functioning bakeries in a city of 300,000 people.

    Behind the photograph of Omran Daqneesh

    The company Innovative Communications & Strategies (InCoStrat), created by MI6 to organise NATO propaganda concerning Syria [1], broadcast a video and a photograph of young Omran Daqneesh (5 years old) being helped by the White Helmets in an ambulance in Aleppo.

    The Aleppo Media Center

    1. After the Aleppo Media Center
      posted the video of Omran Daqneesh on Aug. 17,
      the image of the Syrian boy covered in dust and blood was broadcast across global media networks without a single question regarding some glaring anomalies surrounding this incident. The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, The Associated Press and its many, many subscribers, the Los Angeles Times, The Telegraph, CNN, and Time are just some of the mainstream media outlets which reproduced this video and images from it without hesitation.


  2. http://www.globalresearch.ca/aleppo-chemical-attack-propaganda-and-the-white-helmet-folly/5544916?utm_campaign=magnet&utm_source=article_page&utm_medium=related_articles



    Phillip Hammond, UK Foreign Secretary meeting White Helmets in southern Turkey


    Funded to the tune of over $60 million by the US, UK and EU member states, these mercenaries in beige clothing
    have a base of operations in Turkey,
    but appear to operate exclusively in terrorist-held zones in Syria, and can also be seen running ‘mop-up’ operations for
    Al Nusra Front and other terrorist fighting groups.


    1. The new White Helmets movie looks great.
      @ 0.048 Ammar Alsalmo?


      This is what a convoy that has been bombed by Russia's air force really looks like

  3. https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2016/sep/20/syria-aftermath-of-airstrike-on-un-aid-convoy-video

    Videos taken at the scene show trucks burning by the side of a road and a large fire in a nearby building. People are heard calling for help from the ruins and a panicked narrator claims the convoy was attacked by planes. The damage is clearly immense. Some of the trucks are glowing, twisted wrecks,

    clearly hit by some form of high explosive.
    Igor Konashenkov : “We have closely studied the video footage from where the incident took place and we did not find any signs of any ammunition having hit the convoy. There are no craters, while the vehicles have their chassis intact and they have not been severely damaged, which would have been the case from an airstrike,” Konashenkov said.


    On Tuesday, the UN also retreated from its claims that the convoy was hit by military planes


    Photographs of the affected lorries show burned out vehicles, metal skeleton intact.

  4. The US is not revealing what evidence it has to support its claim that Moscow was responsible for the strike. However, northern Syria is one of the most intensively monitored parts of the world, with advanced military and civilian radars plotting every flight near the Turkish border.

    Turkey has used its radar to track Russian planes in the area, one of which it shot down last November after it strayed across the frontier. Nato listening posts in Turkey and in Cyprus, where the UK also maintains a base, have been actively surveilling the conflict.


    “On the evening of September 19, in that specific region, a drone belonging to the international condition, which had taken off from the Incirlik air base in Turkey, was flying at a height of 3,600 meters and traveling at around 200 kilometers per hour,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.

  5. May. 25, 2015 Turkey says deal with US on air support for Syria rebels

    Turkey has said that any support program must be part of a comprehensive strategy which includes battling Syrian army forces.

    The U.S. broke the ceasefire by striking a Syrian military airbase in Deir Al-Zour, located in the Thardeh Mountains


    Prior to the bombing that killed over 100 soldiers on Saturday, the Syrian Armed Forces allowed U.S. reconnaissance drones to freely fly above their positions in Deir Ezzor.

    UK participation in strikes on Syrian troops: ‘The buck must stop with Theresa May’


    Human Rights Watch has documented previous possible unlawful US airstrikes in Syria in 2014, when US missile strikes on Idlib killed at least seven civilians.

    21 September 2016 The Russian warships in Syria’s coastal waters targeted and destroyed a foreign military operations room in Dar Ezza region in the Western part of Aleppo near Saman mountain, killing over two dozen Israeli and western intelligence officers.
    Several US, Turkish, Saudi, Qatari and British officers were also killed along with the Israeli officers.
    The foreign officers who were killed in the Aleppo operations room were directing the terrorists’ attacks in Aleppo and Idlib.


  6. Thanks, Anon, a couple of useful tidbits in there.

  7. The blast that demolished part of the compound is big but commensurate with hell cannon canister rounds. Seems 2 b what messed up the trucks

    Umm al Kubra convoy attack Video-photo evidence. 1- 2 explosions 6 secs apart. Not fuel conflagrations but detonating explosives. 6 secs is+

    +small-caliber shrapnel. If that bomb had exploded the boxes would've been vaporized. A bomb DID fall there but shrapnel came from a shell.

    CONCLUSION: White Helmets who miraculously were @ the perfect spot to film the explosions staged the whole thing, burning & firing mortars +

    Two weeks ago White Helmets among US UK backed #Syria aid groups who accused UN & @SYRedCrescent of being pro Assad https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/08/aid-groups-un-syria-concern-assad-united-nations …?

  8. One such activist is Ammar al-Selmo,
    the Aleppo director of the U.S./UK-funded, Nusra-linked pseudo-humanitarian White Helmets group, who released a video in English last night:
    “The place turned into hell, and fighter jets were in the sky,” … The [White Helmets] group has headquarters less than a mile from where the convoy was hit.

    In other words, an al-Qaeda-linked group was less than a mile away when the convoy was hit.

  9. In Aleppo the terrorists are surrounded and the SAA is launching a three pronged offensive to finally clear the city which has been looted, starved and terrorized for years. Unfortunately the Battle for Aleppo is still far from over and I just learned that the terrorists
    have destroyed vital pumping stations cutting off 1.5 Million people from water. September 26, 2016

    East and west Aleppo

    Most Western media fail to highlight the “tale of two cities” playing out between eastern and western Aleppo. The east is occupied by a number of groups backed by the United States, NATO, and their allies in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia and Israel. Civilians in the government-held area of western Aleppo describe these groups broadly as “terrorists,” often without noting any specific group.

    Over 1.5 million civilians live in the government-held areas of western Aleppo,
    including 600,000 civilians who fled eastern Aleppo in 2012. Of the 200,000 to 220,000 people living in the terrorist-occupied areas in the eastern parts of the city, an estimated 50,000 or more are members of the so-called “rebel” factions and their families, according to the Aleppo Medical Association.

    In most Western media reports, little mention is made of this division of Aleppo which was created by the incursion of factions of armed insurgents (or, as the mainstream media and US government call them, “moderate rebels”) which drove hordes of civilians out of the eastern parts of the city into the safety of the Syrian government-held western area.


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