The Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation has announced that engineers from the International Mine Action Center have conducted mine-sweeping operations in eastern portion of Aleppo over the last 24 hours.
In a statement released on 24 January, the center indicated that “Russian servicemen from the International Mine Action Center are continuing humanitarian demining of houses, streets and socially critical facilities in eastern Aleppo. Within last 24 hours, Russian field engineers demined the area of over 69.8 hectares, 68 buildings and 11.3 kilometers of roads, and have defused 686 explosion hazardous objects including 479 improvised explosive devices”.
Additionally, the reconciliation center reiterated that it continued to provide Syrians with humanitarian aid, with residents of Aleppo getting over 4.4 metric tons of aid – including nutrition products, school kits, and necessities. Additionally, it added that mobile groups of medics gave medical aid to over 187 locals in Aleppo.
Since their arrival in Syria on 03 December 2016, Russian sappers have defused over 20,000 mines across 2,000 hectares, as mentioned by Igor Mikhailik, the Chief of the International Mine Action Center. “Field engineers are an international profession. We would like to see combat engineers not only from the Russian Federation but also from other countries,” he added in an interview last 16 January 2017. An unnamed diplomatic source also noted that Moscow had called on the UN and other international organizations to provide assistance in demining Aleppo, which was left heavily mined. “Considering importance of the demining task for implementation of humanitarian programs it is necessary to provide international assistance to Russia both on bilateral and multilateral basis,” the diplomatic source reiterated.
Meanwhile, the Center for Syrian Reconciliation also expressed concerns over 9 ceasefire violations in Syria for the past 24 hours. Following the declaration of a ceasefire across Syria on 30 December 2016, Russia and Turkey have acted as the guarantors of the ceasefire agreement. A joint commission was established with a mandate to serve as the main body to consider all complaints and issues related to violations of the ceasefire regime. Russian officers recorded 6 violations in the province of Hama and 3 Latakia, while Turkish officers reported none. “The Russian side has recently asked the Syrian military leadership to take appropriate steps to ensure strict compliance with the reached agreements by some field commanders” an unnamed high-ranking official from the center said.
Clearing operations, humanitarian missions, and constant monitoring of ceasefire violations are expected to continue as talks between the Syrian Government and opposition forces on the ceasefire agreement continue to heat up in Astana, Kazakhstan. Members of the Syrian Opposition have already noted that talks may extend all the way until 25 January, should country-guarantors Russia, Iran, and Turkey agree.