Bombs rain on Aleppo for 2nd day

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

AIR strikes and ar­tillery have pounded rebel-held dis­tricts of east­ern Aleppo for a sec­ond day, killing dozens of peo­ple, dam­ag­ing med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and flat­ten­ing res­i­den­tial build­ings.

Sources said on Wed­nes­day that at least 84 peo­ple had been killed and dozens wounded in and around Aleppo city over the past 48 hours, as air raids launched by Syr­ian jets rained down on rebel-held ar­eas amid a new govern­ment of­fen­sive.

The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said at least 21 peo­ple, in­clud­ing five chil­dren and an emer­gency worker, were killed on Wed­nes­day in the al-Shaar, al-Sukkari, al-Sakhour and Karam al-Beik neigh­bour­hoods.

“The heli­copters won’t stop for a sin­gle mo­ment,” Be­bars Mishal, a mem­ber of the Syr­ian Civil De­fence, a first re­spon­der group that op­er­ates in rebel-held ar­eas, said. “Right now, the bomb­ing won’t let up.” Osama bin Javaid, re­port­ing from Kilis on the Turk­ish side of the Turkey-Syria bor­der, said ca­su­alty fig­ures were “ris­ing by the hour”.

“One of the worst-hit ar­eas is the al-Shaar neigh­bour­hood where at least 18 bar­rel bombs struck, one of them near a chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal and a school,” he said.

“We have seen dis­turb­ing scenes of res­i­dents hold­ing up body parts of rel­a­tives killed in air strikes,” he added.

“So what we’re see­ing on the ground is ut­ter des­per­a­tion on the part of the peo­ple of Aleppo who are not sure what to do be­cause they can’t ac­tu­ally go into shel­ters, and if they stay at home they are at risk of be­ing bombed.”

Ad­ham Sahloul, of the Syr­ian Amer­i­can Med­i­cal So­ci­ety, which sup­ports sev­eral hospi­tals in op­po­si­tion ar­eas, said it ap­peared the govern­ment was fo­cus­ing its fire on Aleppo’s med­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture.

There are only five func­tion­ing trauma fa­cil­i­ties left in east­ern Aleppo, Sahloul told the As­so­ci­ated Press news agency.

The Independent Doc­tors As­so­ci­a­tion, which sup­ports sev­eral fa­cil­i­ties in Syria, said east­ern Aleppo’s cen­tral blood bank was struck in Wed­nes­day’s at­tacks, as well as a chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal sup­ported by the as­so­ci­a­tion.

“Me and my staff and all the pa­tients are sit­ting in one room in the base­ment right now,” a pe­di­a­tri­cian who iden­ti­fied him­self only as Dr Hatem posted in a note that was cited by the as­so­ci­a­tion. “We will try to get out when the air strikes leave our sky. Pray for us please.”

The im­pact on east Aleppo’s densely packed civil­ian neigh­bour­hoods has been dev­as­tat­ing. More than 250 000 civil­ians are still trapped in rebel-held ar­eas, with dwin­dling food sup­plies and ex­tremely lim­ited med­i­cal care.

“There were scenes of des­per­a­tion when there was a brief pause in the air strikes,” Al Jazeera’s Javaid said. “Res­i­dents in one area raided a food bank — peo­ple are des­per­ate and hun­gry.”

The Syr­ian army cut the last sup­ply route into re­bel­held ter­ri­tory in July and the last time sup­plies reached east Aleppo was in Au­gust.

Aleppo has be­come the fiercest front in Syria’s five­and-a-half-year war, pit­ting Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad, sup­ported by Rus­sia, Iran and Shia mili­tias, against Sunni rebels, in­clud­ing groups backed by Turkey, the United States and Gulf monar­chies. — AFP

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