Aleppo
Still image from a video taken on 12 October 2016 of a general view of the bomb-damaged Old City area of Aleppo, Syria Reuters

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday, 14 October, said the capture of Aleppo by Syrian forces would be "a very important springboard" to push back "terrorists" to Turkey. Success in Aleppo would allow the Syrian military to free other parts of the country from "terrorists", he said.

In an interview to a Russian publication Komsomolskaya Pravda, Assad said, "You have to keep cleaning this area and to push the terrorists to Turkey, to go back to where they come from or to kill them. There's no other option. Aleppo is going to be a very important springboard to do this move."

At least 150 people were killed this week as the Syrian military backed by Russian warplanes pounded eastern Aleppo, rescue workers said. On Thursday, at least 13 people were killed in air raids in rebel-held Aleppo districts of al-Kalaseh, Bustan al-Qasr and al-Sakhour, a Syrian civil defence official said, according to a Reuters report.

Increasing number of casualties in the city has led to an international outcry and a fresh round of diplomatic talks, with a meeting between US and Russia planned for Saturday, 15 October. Bombings in the east of the city intensified this week after a relative period of calm, as the Syrian government approved a UN plan to let aid convoys enter most besieged parts of the country, except for Aleppo.

Assad also said in the interview to the publication that the Syrian civil war had become a conflict between the West and Moscow.

"What we've been seeing recently during the last few weeks, and maybe few months, is something like more than Cold War. I don't know what to call it, but it's not something that has existed recently, because I don't think that the West and especially the United States has stopped their Cold War, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union," he said. Assad added that Turkey's operation in Syria amounted to an "invasion, against international law, against the morals, against the sovereignty of Syria."

Meanwhile, European foreign ministers drafted a statement accusing Damascus and its ally Moscow of violence that could amount to war crimes. A draft of the statement seen by Reuters read: "Since the beginning of the offensive by the (Syrian) regime and its allies, the intensity and scale of aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo is clearly disproportionate."

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