Syrian gov’t bombs kill three people near Aleppo: White Helmets

Three people have been killed and six wounded when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces attacked the village of Kafr Nouran near Aleppo, according to the Syrian Civil Defence.

The group of emergency rescue volunteers, also known as the White Helmets, said the artillery bombardment of Kafr Nouran in northwestern Syria coincided on Wednesday with the flight of a Russian reconnaissance aircraft over the area.“The death toll from the artillery shelling of the regime forces and Russia today … on the village of Kafr Nouran, west of Aleppo, rose to three dead, including a child and his father, and the injuries to 11 civilians, including two children and a woman,” the Syrian Civil Defence said in a post on Facebook.

Muthanna al-Barakat, 32, said his older brother, Musab, and his 9-year-old nephew, Mohammed, were killed during the bombing. “When I heard an explosion, I called my brother to check on him, and soon after, he picked up the phone. We lost connection, and I heard another explosion,” he told Al Jazeera.

Al-Barakat added that the bombing hit a civilian area with no military presence. “The purpose of shelling the village is purely criminal because the Assad regime and Russia are angered by the fact that they find the Syrian people living in safety, even if it is temporary,” he said.

Al-Assad’s forces, supported by Russia, also shelled the towns and villages of Ziyara in northern Hama province; Kaframa and Kafrtaal in western Aleppo; and near the towns of Benin and Kansafrah in southern Idlib on Wednesday, according to the White Helmets. All these settlements are in northwestern Syria.

The bombardment comes a day after Russian warplanes carried out about 10 attacks on the outskirts of Idlib, the capital of Idlib province, and the village of Sheikh Barak to its north.Negotiations in Astana
This military escalation coincided with the 20th round of Astana talks in the Kazakh capital with the participation of representatives from Turkey, Russia and Iran, as well as delegations from the Syrian government and opposition.

“Over the course of six years and in conjunction with the Astana process, we have consistently witnessed military escalations by the Assad regime in an attempt to obtain concessions from the opposition and Turkey,” said Abbas Sharifa, a political researcher on Syrian affairs.In January 2017, the first round of the talks began after the signing of a ceasefire between Damascus and Syria’s opposition in the Turkish capital, Ankara, in December 2016.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, Kanat Tumysh, announced on Wednesday that this year’s talks would be the last under the Astana format and his government would no longer host the negotiations.

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