Death toll reaches 31 in tit-for-tat attacks in Aleppo

At least 31 civilians were killed Friday in tit-for-tat violence between Syrian government forces and rebels in Aleppo, a monitoring group reported, amid global calls for a let-up in the fighting that has killed hundreds in recent weeks.

Airstrikes by unidentified jets killed at least 18 civilians in the rebel-held districts on the northern edge of eastern Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The bombardment, believed to have been carried out by regime jets and those of allied Russia, has worsened the humanitarian situation in eastern Aleppo.

The observatory said that local hospitals cannot cope with the increasing numbers of injured amid a shortage in medical equipment and supplies.

Thirteen other civilians were killed in shelling attacks by rebels against regime-controlled areas in Aleppo, said the watchdog that relies on a network of activists inside Syria.

Syrian regime forces on Friday launched a new offensive in north-eastern Aleppo as the government, backed by Russian air power, tries to tighten the noose around rebels in the area, activists said.

Local activist and cameraman Mahmoud Rslan told dpa that rebels foiled attempts by the regime to advance mainly in the opposition area of Suleiman al-Halabi in eastern Aleppo, home to the main water plant that supplies Aleppo with water.

Heavy bombing on the facility has put it out of operation, Ahmed Baroudi of Save the Children said.

"Most water pipes in eastern Aleppo have also been destroyed. There is no capacity to repair them," he told dpa.   

Forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad started a ground attack against rebels in north-eastern Aleppo on Friday, a Syrian military source said.

The launch pad for the offensive is the Handarat refugee camp that the government forces recaptured from the rebels on Thursday, the source added.

Handarat, a Palestinian refugee camp, is located near Castello Road, a major supply route to opposition areas in eastern Aleppo. 

In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council denounced the attacks on civilians in eastern Aleppo, in a resolution that was opposed by Russia.

The resolution text "strongly condemns the military offensive on eastern Aleppo being conducted by forces loyal to the Syrian authorities, and calls on them to halt immediately the indiscriminate bombing of the civilian population."

The decision that was drafted by Western and Arab countries was adopted with 26 yes votes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) meanwhile repeated its urgent demand on the warring sides to allow the evacuation of sick and wounded people from eastern Aleppo.

More than 840 people have been injured in this besieged part of the divided city over the past week, nearly a third of them children, according to the UN aid agency.

WHO also demanded that medical aid should be let in, and that attacks on hospitals stop.

"Blocking whole populations from access to medical care, food and water is intolerable. It is inexcusable cruelty," Pete Salama, who heads WHO's medical emergencies programme, said.

An estimated 300,000 people in eastern Aleppo are under siege by government forces.

Residents there report declining supplies of basic goods, including food, electricity and medicine. 

Last update: Sat, 01/10/2016 - 06:38
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