Aleppo situation ‘catastrophic’ after air strikes claim 60 lives

A wave of air strikes and shelling killed more than 60 people in less than 24 hours in the Syrian city of Aleppo, said monitors and activists.

The contested city is one of the main battlegrounds of the country’s devastating civil war, with a ceasefire that has collapsed and peace talks in Geneva stalled.

At least 27 people died as a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and nearby buildings were hit overnight in the rebel-held part of Aleppo.

The United Nations warned that the situation in Aleppo has become “catastrophic”.

The UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told reporters in Geneva that Syria’s nationwide “cessation of hostilities” is under serious threat of collapse, and that a humanitarian disaster is unfolding as violence increases in Aleppo and three other locations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the attack and pointed a finger of blame at the Syrian government.

Air strikes in residential areas in the rebel-held part of the city killed at least 20 people while state media reported at least 1,000 mortars and rockets were fired at government-held areas of Aleppo, killing at least 14 civilians.

Chief Syrian opposition negotiator Mohammed Alloush blamed the government of president Bashar Assad for the violence.

He said it shows “the environment is not conducive to any political action”.

Around 200 civilians have been killed in the past week, nearly half of them around Aleppo. There has also been shelling in Damascus, along with a car bombing — both rarities for the capital.

The ICRC said the fighting, including the destruction of the hospital, is putting millions at grave risk.

With peace talks in Geneva completely deadlocked, Syrians are regarding the escalating bloodshed with dread, fearing that Aleppo is likely to be the focus of the next phase of the war.

Rebel commanders said government forces have been mobilising soldiers, equipment, and ammunition in preparation for a military action in Aleppo.

The al-Quds hospital, supported by Doctors Without Borders and ICRC and located in the rebel-held district of Sukkari, was hit shortly before midnight on Wednesday, according to opposition activists and rescue workers.

Six hospital staff and three children were among the 27 who died there.


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