Syria's Aleppo pounded as As­sad vows to 'clean' city

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

REBEL-held ar­eas of Aleppo have been hit by a new wave of in­tense aerial bom­bard­ment, ac­cord­ing to op­po­si­tion ac­tivists, as Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad said the cap­ture of the north­ern city would be a “spring­board” to push­ing “ter­ror­ists” back to Turkey.

The UK-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said yes­ter­day that dozens of overnight air strikes had struck east Aleppo, as fight­ing con­tin­ued on the north­ern and south­ern edges of the city.

Ac­cord­ing to The Aleppo Me­dia Cen­tre, a group of op­po­si­tion ac­tivists in the city, the overnight air strikes killed and wounded a num­ber of peo­ple, with some buried un­der the de­bris.

Since the Syr­ian army’s as­sault against re­bel­held Aleppo be­gan in late Septem­ber, Rus­sian and gov­ern­ment bom­bard­ment has killed more than 370 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 68 chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to an Ob­ser­va­tory toll.

Over the past three days, as many as 100 peo­ple have been killed in the raids, res­cue work­ers said, as the air strikes and shelling of the city’s east in­ten­si­fied.

The ris­ing ca­su­al­ties in Aleppo have prompted an in­ter­na­tional out­cry and a re­newed diplo­matic push, with talks be­tween the United States and Rus­sia planned for to­day.

Aleppo, a con­stant bat­tle­field in the long-run­ning Syr­ian civil war, has been di­vided be­tween op­po­si­tion con­trol in the east and gov­ern­ment con­trol in the west since 2012.

In an in­ter­view with a Rus­sian news­pa­per pub­lished yes­ter­day, As­sad said tak­ing back the city, once the coun­try’s in­dus­trial hub, would pro­vide im­por­tant political and strate­gic gains for his gov­ern­ment.

“You have to keep clean­ing this area and to push the ter­ror­ists to Turkey, to go back to where they come from or to kill them. There’s no other op­tion,” As­sad told Kom­so­mol­skaya Pravda. “Aleppo is go­ing to be a very im­por­tant spring­board to do this move.”

As­sad also told the news­pa­per that the Syr­ian civil war had be­come a con­flict be­tween Rus­sia and the West. “What we’ve been see­ing re­cently dur­ing the last few weeks, and maybe few months, is some­thing like more than Cold War,” he said.

As­sad also said that the ac­tions of Turkey, which is back­ing Syr­ian rebels in­volved in an op­er­a­tion aimed at clear­ing Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) from its Syria bor­der re­gion, con­sti­tuted an “in­va­sion” and said that they vi­o­lated “in­ter­na­tional law”.

As world pow­ers pre­pared for new truce talks at the week­end, Rus­sia an­nounced it was ready to give rebels safe pas­sage out of the east­ern sec­tor of Aleppo, where more than 275 000 peo­ple are un­der siege. — AP

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