Russia calls for 'silence' following failed Syria offensive

Russia calls for 'silence' following failed Syria offensive
Moscow has called for a 72-hour "regime of silence" in Syria's restive East Ghouta and Daraya following a stymied attack on opposition-held areas.
2 min read
24 May, 2016
Daraya, a suburb of Damascus, has resisted frequent onslaughts by regime forces [Getty]
Following a failed attack in Syria, Russia has called for a 72-hour cease-fire, or "regime of silence", in Eastern Ghouta and Daraya.

"In order to stabilise the situation, the Russian reconciliation centre is calling for a 72-hour regime of silence in Eastern Ghouta and Daraya" from Tuesday, Sergei Kuralenko said late on Monday.

The call, from the head of the Russian coordination centre in Syria, followed a failed attempt to breach the opposition-held area.  

"The regime forces and militias supporting them opened fire with heavy machine guns from all directions on the town of Daraya," said Shadi Matar, a member of the town's media office. Regime-allied troops attempted to enter homes south of the city, he added.  

Matar said that a "cautious calm" prevailed in the area on Tuesday morning.

Kuralenko reiterated Moscow's call for "moderate rebels" to withdraw from areas controlled by the Nusra Front, and to break ranks with the "jihadists", saying Russia would keep targeting the militants affiliated to al-Qaeda.

Russia has maintained its air force has exclusively targeted militants, but airstrikes on civilian areas and infrastructure, including hospitals, have left many analysts distrustful of Moscow's motivations.

Citing data from Russian monitors and Syrian intelligence, Kuralenko said that the Nusra Front and rebels in Eastern Ghouta and suburbs of Damascus had regrouped, re-armed and were now preparing for an offensive.

The call from Russia came as Washington urged Moscow to press Damascus to stop bombing opposition forces and civilians in Aleppo and the suburbs of the capital.

The United States and Russia are co-partners in the so-called Vienna diplomatic process of the International Support Group for Syria, which met last week in the Austrian capital, but made little notable progress.

The 20 world and regional powers taking part in the process have so far failed to turn a fragile cessation of hostilities in Syria, in effect since February 27, into a durable truce between government and opposition groups.

Last week Moscow proposed that Russia and the United States launch joint air strikes against Nusra, but Washington rejected the idea.