Russian Warships in Mediterranean Prompt Fears Among Syrian Rebels

Source: Time

By Jared Malsin / Istanbul

As rebels hope to hold onto their half of Aleppo

A fleet of eight Russian warships that entered the Mediterranean on October 26 is raising fears that Russia and the regime of president Bashar Assad could launch their most intense assault to date on parts of Syria held by rebels and other insurgents.

Led by Russia’s only aircraft carrier the fleet departed the Barents Sea port of Severmorsk on October 15. The ships could reinforce the Russian military presence in Syria centered on a naval base in the coastal city of Tartus. Since entering the Syrian civil war 13 months ago, Russian air raids have bolstered the regime’s campaign against rebel groups.

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But for the exhausted residents of the rebel-held section of the city of Aleppo the prospect of a renewed Russian or regime attack on their half of the city simply represents more of the same after more than five years of revolt and civil war.

“Since the Russians already have a military base on the ground, this carrier wouldn’t make much difference I guess,” says Wissam Zarqa, a teacher living in the besieged opposition-controlled eastern section of Aleppo.

“As for the intention to attack Aleppo, been there done that. Hopefully that wouldn’t stop the battle to break the siege. More civilians and more hospitals to be targeted, that’s all,” he said in a text message.

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