Government air raids hit medical clinics in Aleppo

Government air raids struck five medical clinics in the northern province of Aleppo, where violence has intensified in recent weeks, Syrian opposition activists said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross tweeted after reports of the air raids on the provincial capital of Aleppo and the nearby town of Atareb: “Harrowing news: More hospitals hit in Aleppo this morning.”

Rival sides in Syria’s five-year conflict have targeted hospitals and clinics in the past. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four clinics are now out of service in the city of Aleppo.

Aleppo activist Baraa al-Halaby confirmed five clinics were hit, adding that an infant was killed in a clinic in the Shaar neighbourhood. He added that a blood bank was struck as well.

Syrian government forces and their allies cut the main road into rebel-held parts of the country, known as the Castello road, last week — laying a siege to opposition-held parts of Aleppo. The country’s largest city and former commercial centre, Aleppo has been contested since July 2012.

Residents have been reporting shortages of food in rebel-held areas because of the siege.

Yesterday scores of men, women and children stood in line in front of one of Aleppo’s bakeries to buy bread amid a shortage of fruits and vegetables, al-Halaby said.

The UN warned earlier this month that nearly 300,000 people in rebel-held parts of Aleppo rely on the Castello road for travel, food and medicine.

The United Nations says there are nearly half a million people in besieged areas in Syria and an estimated 4.5m Syrians are in a separate category called “hard to reach.”

ICRC official in Damascus Pawel Krzysiek said a 24-truck convoy entered the besieged rebel-held Damascus suburb of Moadamiyeh to deliver food for 40,000 people and essential health materials for local facilities in addition to non-food items and nutritional products.

Also in Damascus, state news agency SANA said two shells fired by insurgents hit two Damascus neighbourhoods causing material damage without casualties.

SANA also quoted an unnamed Foreign Ministry official as saying that the government is ready for a new round of peace talks “without preconditions.”

The UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Friday that he hopes to be able to hold new talks in Geneva in August as concerns mount over humanitarian access to Aleppo.

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said in an interview broadcast last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin has never talked to him about leaving power, despite pressure from Washington.

“They never said a single word regarding this,” Assad told NBC News when asked whether Putin or Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had talked to him about a political transition in Syria.


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