Russian-Syrian warplanes mounted the heaviest airstrikes in months against rebel-held districts of the city of Aleppo overnight and triggered major fires, according to a monitor and activists.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday that 14 strikes hit the neighbourhoods of Bustan al-Qasr and Al-Kalasseh leading to “massive fires”, which killed seven people, including three women and three children.
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said they were “the most intense strikes in months with three women and three children among the 13 dead”, while opposition activists accused the Syrian government and its ally Russia of dropping “incendiary phosphorous bombs”.
In footage posted by the Aleppo Media Centre group on Twitter, a ball of flame shoots up over the city, lighting up the skyline and sparking fires on the horizon.
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Fresh air strikes also hit Aleppo’s Sukkari neighbourhood, the Observatory said, and fierce clashes hit the southwestern district of Ramosa, where rebel groups are fighting off a government offensive.
Rebel officials and rescue workers said incendiary bombs were among the weapons that rained from the sky on the city. Hamza al-Khatib, the director of a hospital in the rebel-held east, told Reuters the death toll was 45.
“It’s as if the planes are trying to compensate for all the days they didn’t drop bombs” during the ceasefire, Ammar al-Selmo, the head of the civil defense rescue service in opposition-held eastern Aleppo told Reuters.
“It was like there was coordination between the planes and the artillery shelling, because the shells were hitting the same locations that the planes hit,” he said.
The assault, by aircraft from the Syrian government, its Russian allies or both, made clear that Moscow and Damascus had rejected a plea by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to halt flights so that aid could be delivered and a ceasefire salvaged.
A senior official in the Levant Front, an Aleppo-based rebel group, told Reuters: “The Russians only want surrender. They have no other solution.”
Air raids rocked northern Syria’s Aleppo province on Tuesday, hours after 18 lorries in the UN convoy were hit in the Uram al-Kubra district west of Aleppo city.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the attacks were carried out by either Assad regime’s or Russian aircraft and at least 32 people were killed.
At least 18 of 31 trucks in a U.N. and Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) convoy were hit on Monday along with an SARC warehouse. The convoy was delivering aid for 78,000 people in the hard-to-reach town of Urm al-Kubra in Aleppo province.
Assad, helped by Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias, has steadily tightened his grip on the opposition-held eastern areas of Aleppo this year, achieving a long-held goal of fully encircling it this summer.
Capturing the rebel-held half of Syria’s largest city would be the biggest victory of the war for the government side, which has already achieved its strongest position in years thanks to Russian and Iranian support.
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes. Sy
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