Shortages worsen as fresh strikes hit Syria's Aleppo

AFP , Monday 26 Sep 2016

A Syrian man walks past a bus set ablaze following a reported air strike in the rebel-held Salaheddin district of Aleppo on September 25, 2016 (Photo: AFP)

Residents of Syria's battered city of Aleppo faced worsening food and medical shortages Monday as Syrian and Russian warplanes again pounded rebel-held areas in defiance of international concern.

A fresh wave of intensive air strikes hit the city's opposition-controlled east from dawn on Monday, an AFP correspondent in the city said, on the morning after Moscow and Damascus were repeatedly accused of war crimes at the UN Security Council.

The emergency council meeting, called by Britain, France and the United States, saw Russia accused of "barbarism" over the worsening carnage in Aleppo.

Yet the worst violence to hit the divided city in years continued on Monday and residents warned that stores of food and vital medical supplies were dwindling to nothing.

The strikes from dawn on Monday were particularly heavy on two rebel-held districts, Al-Mashhad and Sayf al-Dawla, and sparked large fires, the AFP correspondent said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said "dozens of raids" had hit districts of east Aleppo after midnight on Sunday, with many wounded and at least two civilians killed.

It was the fourth day of intense air raids on the city since a defiant Syrian regime launched a new assault vowing to retake all of Aleppo following the collapse early last week of a short-lived ceasefire brokered by Russia and the United States.

The Observatory said Monday that at least 128 people, nearly all civilians, had been killed in Syrian and Russian raids on eastern Aleppo since late Thursday.

Among the dead were 20 children and nine women, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

At least 36 civilians, including 11 children and five women, were also killed in raids targeting rural areas of Aleppo province, he said.

A Syrian military source told AFP regime forces had no intention of letting up on rebel-held areas.

"The air force will bomb any terrorist movements, this is an irreversible decision," the source said, reiterating that the regime's goal was to "recapture all regions of Syria" outside its control.

A medical source in rebel-held Aleppo said hospitals were struggling to deal with a huge number of casualties.

"Hospitals that are still in service are under a lot of pressure due to the significant number of wounded in recent days, and the major shortage of blood," the source told AFP.

"Because of this, serious injuries are requiring immediate amputations," he said.

With Aleppo back under siege since regime forces again fully surrounded the city in early September, residents were having to deal with food shortages and skyrocketing prices as well as intensifying violence.

The price of a portion of bread had risen to 500 Syrian pounds ($1) from 350 Syrian pounds last week, the AFP correspondent said, and food was becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Several charity kitchens that had distributed food in eastern districts were no longer operating due to the danger of air strikes.

Water supplies also remained cut off to many areas after pumping stations were damaged at the weekend.

"We endured through years of bombardments and did not leave Aleppo. But now there is no bread, no drinking water, nothing in the markets. The situation is getting worse every day," Hassan Yassin, a 40-year-old father of four in the Ferdus neighbourhood, told AFP.

Aleppo has been divided since mid-2012 between government control in the west and rebels in the east and has been a key battleground in Syria's five-year war.

At the Security Council meeting, US Ambassador Samantha Power voiced strong criticism of Russia's support for President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism. It is barbarism," she said.

Russian launched air strikes in support of Assad last September, helping regime forces to regain ground lost to a wide range of opposition forces battling the regime.

UN envoys raised deep concern over the use of arms including bunker-busting bombs in the Aleppo strikes.

"It is difficult to deny that Russia is partnering with the Syrian regime to carry out war crimes," said British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also warned the use of advanced weaponry against civilians could amount to war crimes.

Ban called on world powers to "work harder for an end to the nightmare" in Syria that has left more than 300,000 people dead and driven millions from their homes.

Moscow hit back at the accusations on Monday, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling reporters that Russia denounced "the overall unacceptable tone and rhetoric of the representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States, which can damage and harm our relations."

Short link: