Fresh wave of airstrikes hits di­vided Syr­ian city

Baltimore Sun - - WORLD - By Bassem Mroue

BEIRUT — Syr­ian res­i­dents in the op­po­si­tion-held east­ern part of Aleppo hun­kered un­der a fresh wave of airstrikes Fri­day amid in­tense clashes be­tween gov­ern­ment forces and rebels, while a se­nior op­po­si­tion of­fi­cial warned that sup­plies of food and medicines were fast run­ning out in the be­sieged city.

The aerial bom­bard­ment is part of a weeks-long dev­as­tat­ing mil­i­tary cam­paign by Syria and Rus­sia that the op­po­si­tion says has killed dozens of peo­ple in the past three days alone.

Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad has ex­pressed his in­ten­tion to re­cap­ture the north­ern city’s rebel east­ern neigh­bor­hoods, say­ing that a mil­i­tary vic­tory in Aleppo would pro­vide the Syr­ian army with a “spring­board” from which to lib­er­ate other ar­eas of the coun­try.

“You have to keep clean­ing this area and to push the ter­ror­ists to Turkey to go back to where they came from, or to kill them,” As­sad told a Rus­sian me­dia out­let, Kom­so­mol­skaya Pravda, in an in­ter­view re­leased Thurs­day. “There’s no other op­tion.”

Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces have en­cir­cled the east­ern half of Aleppo, be­sieg­ing tens of thou­sands of peo­ple and pound­ing the ter­ri­tory with airstrikes on daily ba­sis. The siege and deadly bom­bard­ment has caused an in­ter­na­tional out­cry with a num­ber of coun­tries and groups ac­cus­ing Syria and Rus­sia of war crimes in con­nec­tion with at­tacks on med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and aid con­voys.

Mo­ham­mad Fade­lah, head of the Aleppo Provin­cial Coun­cil, said the op­po­si­tion had brought in enough sup­plies to Aleppo un­der an emer­gency plan that would last six months. But he said that with the es­ca­la­tion and bomb­ing of hos­pi­tals and bak­eries, sup­plies were run­ning out.

“We have emer­gency re­serves, but I think we can maybe go an­other month with what we have. Flour will run out in a month,” he said by tele­phone Fri­day from the city of Gazien­tep in south­ern Turkey.

He es­ti­mated there were around 275,000 peo­ple in east­ern Aleppo.

Mean­while, Rus­sia’s U.N. Am­bas­sador Vi­taly Churkin said Fri­day that Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry will be joined for cease-fire talks Satur­day in Switzer­land, by min­is­ters from sev­eral coun­tries that are “re­ally, re­ally, re­ally in­flu­en­tial” with op­po­si­tion fight­ers. A Syr­ian boy re­ceives care Thurs­day at a hospi­tal in the regime-held part of Aleppo. On Fri­day, airstrikes hit rebel-held ar­eas. Truce talks will take place Satur­day in Switzer­land.


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