Syria re­takes Aleppo dis­trict as bombs rain down

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SYRIA’S army took con­trol of a re­bel­held dis­trict in cen­tral Aleppo af­ter days of heavy air strikes that have killed dozens and sparked al­le­ga­tions of war crimes.

In the first ad­vance since an­nounc­ing plans last week to re­take all of the di­vided city, pro-gov­ern­ment troops seized the Farafira dis­trict northwest of Aleppo’s his­toric citadel, a mil­i­tary source told AFP.

“Af­ter neu­tral­is­ing many ter­ror­ists ... units are now dem­i­ning the area,” the source said.

The push fol­lows sev­eral days of Syr­ian and Rus­sian air strikes on rebel-held Aleppo neigh­bour­hoods – some of the fiercest bom­bard­ment of the five-year con­flict so far – af­ter a cease­fire deal bro­kered by Moscow and Wash­ing­ton col­lapsed last week.

The Aleppo mael­strom prompted West­ern pow­ers to ac­cuse Rus­sia of com­mit­ting pos­si­ble war crimes, charges the Krem­lin con­demned as “un­ac­cept­able”.

In the lat­est broad­side, NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg also con­demned the air cam­paign.

“The ap­palling at­tacks on Aleppo have shaken all of us, and the vi­o­lence and the at­tacks we have seen ... is morally to­tally un­ac­cept­able and is a bla­tant vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional law,” Mr Stoltenberg told a news con­fer­ence in Bratislava.

On the ground in eastern Aleppo, an AFP cor­re­spon­dent said air strikes struck sev­eral neigh­bour­hoods si­mul­ta­ne­ously on Septem­ber 27, in­clud­ing in Al-Shaar, where a five-storey build­ing was lev­elled with a fam­ily stuck in­side.

One young girl, her body en­cased in rub­ble, was among the dead. Her fa­ther, in shock as res­cue work­ers picked up her life­less body, col­lapsed be­side her, say­ing, “She’s just sleep­ing. She’s just used to sleep­ing.”

The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights, a Bri­tain-based mon­i­tor, said that more than 165 peo­ple have been killed by Rus­sian and regime bom­bard­ment on the city since the gov­ern­ment an­nounced its of­fen­sive last week.

At least 23 civil­ians, in­clud­ing nine chil­dren, were killed in the lat­est raids on the neigh­bour­hoods of Al-Shaar and Al-Mash­had, it said.

As well as the in­ten­si­fied vi­o­lence, res­i­dents have been left reel­ing from food short­ages and sky­rock­et­ing prices.

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion warned that med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties in east Aleppo were on the verge of “com­plete de­struc­tion”.

“Over the last week­end alone, more than 200 peo­ple were in­jured and taken to un­der­staffed health fa­cil­i­ties in east Aleppo,” a spokesper­son said in Geneva.

The UN body called for “an im­me­di­ate es­tab­lish­ment of hu­man­i­tar­ian routes to evac­u­ate sick and wounded from the eastern part of the city”.

Photo: AFP

Res­cuers hand the body of a girl down to civil­ians on the ground af­ter she was pulled from the rub­ble of a build­ing fol­low­ing air strikes by gov­ern­ment forces in the rebel-held neigh­bour­hood of Al-Shaar in Aleppo on Septem­ber 27.

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