Aleppo: Putin rejects army request to resume air raids

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The Russian president told his military to hold the ceasefire over rebel-held eastern Aleppo for the time being.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected a request by his military to resume air raids over Syria’s rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

The Russian army said on Friday that it had asked the president for authorisation to resume its bombing campaign, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin “considers it inappropriate at the current moment,” adding the president thought it necessary to “continue the humanitarian pause” in the war-battered city.

The request was made after Syrian opposition fighters launched an assault against the government-held western part of the city, firing rockets and detonating car bombs in a counter assault.

Opposition activists say 15 civilians, including children, were killed in those attacks on government-held western Aleppo. Rebels also targeted a military airbase.

A Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a US fighter jet over eastern Syria, US defence officials said on Friday, highlighting the risks of a serious mishap in the increasingly crowded airspace.

The “near miss” occurred late on October 17, when a Russian jet that was escorting a larger spy plane manoeuvred near an American plane, Air Force Lieutenant General Jeff Harrigian said.

The Russian jet came to “inside of half a mile” of the US jet, he added.

Another US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the American pilot was buffeted by the turbulence from the Russian jet’s engines.

It appeared the Russian pilot had simply not seen the US jet, either on radar or visually. It was dark and the planes were flying without lights.

“I would attribute it to not having the necessary situational awareness given all those [planes] operating together,” Harrigian said.

The incident raises serious questions about the extent to which pilots can track the complex airspace they operate in.

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