At least 26 killed in Aleppo as U.N. meets over Syria

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - 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 deep 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 5 ½-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 counter-ter­ror­ism, it’s bar­barism,” said U.S. Am­bas­sador Sa­man­tha Power. “It’s apoc­a­lyp­tic what is be­ing done in east­ern Aleppo.”

As the gov­ern­ment of­fen­sive en­tered its fourth day on 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 by 7:30 p.m. and said it ex­pects the toll to rise. Ibrahim Al­haj of the Syr­ian Civil De­fense search and res­cue out­fit gave a higher toll, say­ing hos­pi­tals and res­cuers had doc­u­mented the deaths of 43 peo­ple so far on 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 Mon­day evening.

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 once place,” he said from a hos­pi­tal in the city. “It’s ter­ri­fy­ing to­day. In less than one hour the Rus­sian planes have killed more than 50 peo­ple and in­jured more than 200.”

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

At the start of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil meet­ing, U.N. en­voy 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 des­per­ately needed 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 48-hour pauses to de­liver aid, and med­i­cal evac­u­a­tions for sev­eral ur­gent cases in east­ern Aleppo.

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

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Syr­i­ans in­spect dam­aged build­ings af­ter airstrikes hit in Aleppo, Syria, on Satur­day.

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