The Latest: MSF says 23,000 flee Aleppo
BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest developments on the war in Syria and the tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing violence (all times local):
Doctors Without Borders says some 23,000 new arrivals fleeing the fighting in Aleppo are in urgent need of emergency shelter and support near Syria’s border with Turkey.
In a press release issued Tuesday, the group says it has increased the number of beds in its hospital in Azaz district to 36 beds from 28 and is preparing to extend capacity if necessary. The group says it has distributed hundreds of blankets, tents, mattresses and other supplies.
The group also says it has pre-positioned aid inside Aleppo in the event supply lines get cut. The group said it was worried about an impending food, water and fuel crisis in coming weeks.
Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow has presented Washington with new proposals for ending Syria’s civil war.
Sergey Lavrov says in an interview with the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets published Tuesday that the plan is specific and simple, but does not provide details.
Lavrov is set to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday in Munich.
Lavrov shrugged off criticism that Russia had contributed to the collapse of peace talks in Geneva last week by providing air cover for a Syrian government advance north of Aleppo.
Instead, he blamed Turkey, saying it had fueled the conflict by providing militants with weapons and supplies, and buying oil from them.
Russia is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and has been waging an air campaign on its behalf since Sept. 30.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing near a police officers’ club in the Syrian capital, Damascus that killed at least 10 people.
In a statement circulated on Twitter by several accounts affiliated with the group, IS says Tuesday’s attack was carried out by a fighter known as Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Shami. It vows more attacks.
Syrian state TV says the bombing killed at least 10 people, and showed footage of damaged vehicles and a burnt-out car.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group that tracks both sides of the conflict, says the blast killed eight policemen and wounded 20.
The United Nations says hundreds of thousands of people in Syria’s largest city could be soon cut off from humanitarian aid amid blistering Syrian and Russian airstrikes and is calling on Turkish authorities to open the border to help those fleeing the violence.
The U.N. humanitarian office OCHA says 300,000 people could be cut off from aid if the Syrian government and allied forces encircle Aleppo and deprive those fleeing from their last way out. Laying out contingency plans, OCHA said local leaders believe up to 150,000 people could try to flee to nearby Afrin and the surrounding countryside.
The refugee agency UNHCR also called on Turkey to open its borders to allow in people who have already fled Aleppo and who have gathered by the thousands near the Syrian-Turkish border.
Turkey’s prime minister is calling on the international community to speak out against Russia for “mercilessly bombing civilian targets” in Syria.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also says Tuesday that Russia will eventually retreat from Syria in “embarrassment” — in a similar manner to the Soviet forces who once left Afghanistan.
Davutoglu was speaking to legislators of his ruling party as tens of thousands of Syrians who fled a Russian-backed Syrian onslaught around the city of Aleppo massed at the border with Turkey.
Turkey is already home to 2.5 million Syrian refugees. Davutoglu insisted that Turkey has not shut its borders to refugees even though it has not let in the new wave of arrivals. A senior government official said Turkey would care for the Syrians within their borders “as much as possible.”
Syrian state media says a car bomb has exploded near a police officers’ club in the Syrian capital of Damascus, wounding at least eight people.
The SANA news agency says the blast went off near a vegetable market in the northern neighborhood of Masaken Barzeh. State TV said the blast occurred near a police officers’ club, inflicting casualties.
The opposition Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, said the blast killed eight policemen and wounded 20 after it was detonated in the parking lot of the officers’ club.
Such attacks are not uncommon in the Syrian capital, the seat of power of President Bashar Assad.
The blast came a day after an international rights group said Syrian government forces and the Russian military have been carrying out daily cluster bomb attacks over the past two weeks in Syria, killing 37 people. The Human Rights Watch report said that cluster munitions, which are widely banned, have been used in at least 14 attacks across five provinces since Jan. 26.