Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead
A Turkish, anti-riot police officer fatally shot Russia's ambassador to Turkey at a gathering for a photo exhibit. The gunman fired at least 8 shots, and walked around Ambassador Andrei Karlov while again shooting him at close range. The assailant was identified as a 22-year-old member of Ankara's riot police squad, Mevlut Mert Altintas. Mevlut was later killed in a shootout with the police.
Following Hafez al-Assad's death in 2000, his son Bashar took over as the President of Syria. Since then, Syrians had complained of high unemployment, the absence of political freedom, corruption, and state repression. In Mar'11, pro-democracy demonstrations in the Deraa city erupted; but the Government crushed the demonstrations. Subsequently, countrywide protests demanding President al-Assad's resignation erupted that led to the Syrian civil war.
According to the UN, over 2,80,000 people lost their lives while millions have been displaced since the Syrian civil war began in Mar'11. The UN estimated that only 17.9 million people were still living in Syria; down from over 24.5 million five years ago.
Iran and Russia provided financial, military and political support to the Syrian Government since 2011. Syria's key ally, Russia launched an air strike in Sep'15 to stabilize the war-torn country's Government; it targeted terrorists who became active during the conflict. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered their forces to withdraw as their mission was accomplished in Mar'16.
Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced three routes for civilians and unarmed rebels would be opened while another for armed rebels would be opened for leaving the Aleppo city. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has offered armed rebels an amnesty for laying down weapons and surrendering within a three-month period. Government forces with Russia's air power surrounded Aleppo severing supply routes along with rebel-controlled areas.
According to reports, the Government forces have taken control of some more areas in Aleppo in Bani Zeid neighborhood. President Assad reportedly issued a decree in which the amnesty offer was announced; several such offers were made in the past. The decree said "everyone carrying arms and sought by justice" would be exempted from full punishment provided that they lay down their arms.
Five Russians travelling on board a military helicopter were killed when the chopper was shot down over the Idlib province. Russia said the helicopter was returning after delivering humanitarian aid to Aleppo. It is not yet clear which group shot down the chopper, which was carrying 3 crew members and 2 officers. Russia has previously lost at least 3 aircraft in the Syrian war.
Government of Syria, along with its ally, Russia, executed air strikes and a series of fresh bombings in Aleppo and its neighbour, Idlib. Fights across the country led to at least 66 people dying in 24 hours. On 14th August, 2016 itself, Idlib witnessed 26 air strikes. On the same day, a suicide bomber detonated his vest inside a bus in Idlib, killing 35.
Russia's defence ministry stated that it has employed a base in western Iran to carry forward air attacks in Syria. The aircraft struck the jihadist militants in Aleppo, Idlib and Deir al-Zour regions. It is the first instance when Russia has attacked targets inside Syria from a third country since it launched a campaign to assist the Syrian president in 2015.
An 8-hour humanitarian ceasefire in the Syrian city of Aleppo was announced by Russia on Monday. Sergei Rudskoi, senior Russian military officer said that this ceasefire would run from 8:00AM to 4:00PM local time and that the "humanitarian pause" would allow evacuating wounded and free passage of locals. The ceasefire was announced on the same day that EU proclaimed Russian air-strikes as war crimes.
The ongoing ceasefire in Aleppo has allowed the government and Russian forces to create exit corridors in besieged parts of Aleppo. These corridors will allow civilians to move from rebel-held areas to government-held areas. Rebels were also encouraged to leave via exit-corridors in exchange for truce and local autonomy for Aleppo's eastern districts. So far it's unclear how many will exercise the government's option.
US officials highlighted the concerns of an increasingly crowded Syrian airspace, saying that a Russian fighter flew dangerously close to a US bomber. Officials said the Russian jet was close enough to create turbulence for the US plane, after coming within half a mile of the aircraft. The statement comes amid calls from Hillary Clinton to impose a no-fly zone over Syria.
Syrian government forces reported that they have made considerable progress in pushing back Islamic State militants and rebel forces from Aleppo. Forces captured Jabal Badro district a day after seizing Hanano district, and are reportedly making in-roads in other neighbourhoods; thousand of civilians have been forced to flee. Approximately 275,000 people are trapped in eastern Aleppo without food or medical supplies.
Thousands of civilians have begun evacuating eastern Aleppo as rebel forces began to lose their hold on the city faced with the brutal government onslaught. Sources said 70,000 people from eastern Aleppo's estimated 275,000 residents have fled in recent days; most civilians have fled to the government-held western-Aleppo. The recent fighting has reduced most of eastern-Aleppo into ruins and rubble.
As he shot the ambassador, Mevlut condemned Russia's military role in Syria and shouted, "Don't forget Aleppo! Don't forget Syria!" He also yelled "Allahu Akbar, we are the descendants of those who supported Prophet Mohammad, for jihad."