Fresh wave of airstrikes hits divided Syrian city
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.