The militants shelled a hotel in the center of Aleppo, Syria, which is known to house many foreigners, including a group of journalists and the representatives of several humanitarian organizations, including the United Nations, UNICEF, and Red Crescent, Russian TVC channel reported.
According to the broadcaster, employees of Russia’s “Zvezda” TV channel were in the hotel at the time. Journalists from Russia’s Channel 1, VGTRK, and REN TV broadcasters were also staying at the hotel, and Channel 1 also recounted the shelling.
Eighty-millimeter mortar guns were fired at the hotel, according to Channel 1. Six mortars were reportedly fired at the complex. One leveled the hotel-staff building, and another destroyed the roof of the gym. The windows of the building were shattered by the blast wave, and several trees were ripped out in the hotel yard.
“A bomb fell into the yard and shrapnel flew into the window. I was sitting on a chair and just fell to the floor, I was so scared,” a woman who lives in a nearby house told Channel 1.
All of the guests were evacuated just in time. They were led downstairs where they were protected by concrete walls. No one was killed and no major injuries have been reported.
“These were unguided missiles, so it’s hard to tell where they came from. Most probably, from the Bustan al-Qasr area. It’s good there were no victims this time,” a source in the Syrian military told Channel 1.
Bustan al-Qasr is a neighborhood in central Aleppo currently largely controlled by forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
According to the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria, a total of 58 violations of the cessation of hostilities have been recorded in Syria within the past 24 hours, including 33 in Aleppo, 18 in Damascus, as well as several more in Ham and Latakia provinces. It was reported earlier on Thursday that a suicide bomb attack on a refugee camp in Syria’s Idlib province near the Turkish border killed at least 20 people. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for that terrorist act.
Earlier this week, Washington announced that it was breaking off cooperation with Moscow aimed at sustaining the ceasefire in Syria altogether, blaming Moscow for failing to force Damascus to suspend its military campaign and provide besieged areas of Syria with access to humanitarian aid. Russia, in turn, says Washington failed to deliver on its promise to separate the so-called “moderate opposition” from the Al Nusra (now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) terror group.
Earlier on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the crisis management efforts of Russia’s Western colleagues in the Syrian seem focused solely on heading off actions that might damage Al Nusra.
“The opposition armed forces and the so-called power structures they created, such as the local council of the city of Aleppo, continue to hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in Aleppo’s east. We believe that the militants’ foreign patrons should have got involved in solving this issue a long time ago, those [patrons] who provide [the militants] with all kinds of assistance.”
“The first thing we see in the actions of […] the Western nations is not their care for the humanitarian situation in Syria, but a desire to protect [Nusra militants] and their affiliates. Speaking more frankly, it is not even merely [the desire] to protect them, but to directly remove any threat at all that might damage Al Nusra,” Zakharova told the press at a weekly briefing.