Assad-Russian airstrikes have killed at least 14 people from one family in rebel-held Aleppo in northern Syria, bringing the death toll to 47 over the past 24 hours, as the Assad regime pursued its drive to capture opposition-held areas of the city.
Members of the Syrian Civil Defence, a search and rescue group also known as the White Helmets that operates in rebel-held areas across the country, identified the jets as Russian. The attack hit Aleppo’s al-Marjeh area.
The White Helmets said they are searching for more than a dozen people trapped under the rubble.
“A new massacre happened this morning when Russian warplanes bombed the Marjeh neighbourhood killing 14 people from the same family, most of them women and children,” Ibrahim Abu Leith, Aleppo-based spokesman for the White Helmets, said.
A list of those killed in the city, published by the Civil Defence, included several infants, among them two six-week old babies and six other children aged eight or below.
Of the 47 civilians killed, the highest number of dead were in the Qaterji neighbourhood, where Russian raids claimed 17 lives overnight, according to Rami Abdulrahman, the Syrian Observatory chief.
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) October 17, 2016
— Middle East Observer (@MEOorg) October 17, 2016
— Syrian Network (@snhr) October 17, 2016
Several structures were destroyed in the airstrikes, the source added, pointing out that civil defense teams were still in the process of rescuing victims from under the rubble of collapsed buildings.
White Helmets rescuers were working to pull about 20 people out of the rubble in Qaterji.
One civil defence volunteer told AFP news agency that they had been unable to complete rescue missions overnight in fear of further air strikes by warplanes circling above.
Later on Monday, separate air strikes on the village of Awaijel west of Aleppo killed at least 23 people and the toll was expected to rise, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported.
— Ahmad Alkhatib (@AhmadAlkhtiib) October 17, 2016
A boy trapped under the rubble
A young boy was left dangling from a building in Aleppo after his home was hit by an airstrike on Sunday.
Wearing a top that reads ‘Don’t Shoot’, the boy, who were identified as 16-year-old Marouf, was left hanging from a rooftop by his legs after they became trapped in rubble.
The video, which was uploaded to YouTube, claimed the boy was a victim of an airstrike by Russian forces in his neighbourhood of Alqatrgi.
Footage shows civil defence teams using a cherry picker and ladders to free the boy.
Assad regime, backed by Russia, said on September 22 it was starting a new wide offensive to recapture the rebel-held parts of Aleppo after a week-long ceasefire was declared officially over on 19 September.
Since 19 September, more than 800 civilians were killed and more than 2000 injured in rebel-held areas of Aleppo province, including the besieged eastern part of the city, Civil defense workers said.
The Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shi’ite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, has been tightening its grip on rebel-held districts of Aleppo this year, and this summer achieved a long-held goal of fully encircling the area.
Recovering full control of the rebels’ last significant urban area would be the most important victory of the war so far for Assad, strengthening his control over Syria’s most populous and strategically important regions.