Dozens killed in Aleppo as U.N. meets over Syria

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Philip Issa and Edith M. Led­erer

BEIRUT — At least 26 civil­ians were killed in fresh gov­ern­ment airstrikes on the con­tested city of Aleppo, Syr­ian ac­tivists said Sun­day, as the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil con­vened an emer­gency meet­ing on the spi­ral­ing vi­o­lence in Syria but failed to take any ac­tion be­cause of di­vi­sions be­tween Rus­sia and the Western pow­ers.

The United States, Bri­tain and France, who called the emer­gency meet­ing, heaped blame on Moscow for sup­port­ing the Syr­ian of­fen­sive, which U.N. en­voy Staffan de Mis­tura called one of the worst of the 51⁄ year war.

When Syria’s U.N. Am­bas­sador Bashar Ja’afari was called to speak in the coun­cil, the am­bas­sadors of the three Western pow­ers walked out in protest.

They had de­manded a halt to the Aleppo of­fen­sive and im­me­di­ate coun­cil ac­tion, and their walk­out demon­strated anger and frus­tra­tion not only at Da­m­as­cus but at Rus­sia for back­ing close ally Bashar As­sad’s mil­i­tary cam­paign while talk­ing about re­viv­ing a ces­sa­tion of hos­til­i­ties.

“What Rus­sia is spon­sor­ing and do­ing is not coun­tert­er­ror­ism, it’s bar­barism,” U.S. Am­bas­sador Samantha Power said. “It’s apoc­a­lyp­tic what is be­ing done in eastern Aleppo.”

As the gov­ern­ment of­fen­sive en­tered its fourth day Sun­day, med­i­cal work­ers and lo­cal of­fi­cials re­ported airstrikes on neigh­bor­hoods through­out Aleppo’s rebel-held eastern dis­tricts.

The Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights re­ported 26 civil­ians had been killed and said it ex­pects the toll to rise. Ibrahim Al­haj of the Syr­ian Civil De­fense search and res­cue out­fit gave a higher A trac­tor clears rub­ble Satur­day af­ter a Syr­ian gov­ern­ment airstrike on a rebel-held neigh­bor­hood of Aleppo. toll, say­ing hos­pi­tals and res­cuers had doc­u­mented the deaths of 43 peo­ple Sun­day.

The Ob­ser­va­tory, which re­lies on a net­work of con­tacts in­side Syria, said ear­lier in the day that 213 civil­ians had been killed by airstrikes and shelling on op­po­si­tion ar­eas in and around Aleppo since the U. S.- Rus­sian bro­kered cease-fire col­lapsed last Mon­day.

Hos­pi­tals are over­whelmed with ca­su­al­ties and med­i­cal work­ers are ex­pect­ing many of the wounded to die from a lack of treat­ment, ac­cord­ing to Mo­ham­mad Zein Khan­daqani, a mem­ber of the Med­i­cal Coun­cil, which over­sees med­i­cal af­fairs in the city’s op­po­si­tion quar­ters. “I’ve never seen so many peo­ple dy­ing in (one) place,” he said from a hospi­tal in the city. “It’s ter­ri­fy­ing to­day.”

Con­flict­ing ca­su­alty es­ti­mates are com­mon in the af­ter­math of clashes and at­tacks in Syria.

At the start of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil meet­ing, de Mis­tura said the of­fen­sive against eastern Aleppo, where up to 275,000 peo­ple “have been un­der a form of de facto siege for al­most 20 days,” fol­lowed the U.S.-led coali­tion’s bomb­ing of Syr­ian troops, which Wash­ing­ton called a tragic mis­take, and a deadly at­tack on a U.N. con­voy car­ry­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid.

“But no in­ci­dent, ir­re­spec­tive of whether it can be at­trib­uted or not, does jus­tify what is go­ing on in front of our own eyes: the un­rav­el­ing of the ces­sa­tion of hos­til­i­ties and the si­mul­ta­ne­ous un­leash­ing of un­prece­dented mil­i­tary vi­o­lence af­fect­ing in­no­cent civil­ians as well,” he said.

He urged the United States and Rus­sia “to go that ex­tra mile to see if they can save their agree­ment of Sept. 9 and do so at the eleventh hour.”

He also urged the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to press for a ces­sa­tion of hos­til­i­ties, weekly pauses to de­liver aid and med­i­cal evac­u­a­tions for sev­eral ur­gent cases in eastern Aleppo.

De Mis­tura said Syr­i­ans and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity are los­ing any re­main­ing hope with Wash­ing­ton and Moscow “un­less we sal­vage what was agreed on.”

Rus­sia’s U.N. Am­bas­sador Vi­taly Churkin blamed Syria’s rebels for sab­o­tag­ing the cease-fire agree­ment by us­ing the lull to shore up their forces, and he ac­cused the Western coali­tion of fail­ing to sep­a­rate the mod­er­ate fac­tions it backs from “ter­ror­ist” groups — es­pe­cially the al-Qaida-linked Jab­hat Fatah al-Sham.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.