Syria’s regime and its ally Russia Tuesday launched a wide-ranging assault on rebels with renewed strikes on the besieged eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, sparking fury in Washington.
The United States strongly condemned Russia’s renewed bombing campaign, warning that strikes on civilian targets break international law.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke of a “major operation” which saw the first missions carried out by warplanes taking off from the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier that arrived off Syria last week.
In Aleppo, Syrian government aircraft pounded the eastern neighborhoods with air strikes and barrel bomb attacks, a monitor and AFP correspondent said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least five civilians were killed in the bombardment, the first of its kind since October 18.
An AFP correspondent in east Aleppo said strikes hit the Sakhur, Fardos and Masakan Hanano neighbourhoods while ambulances sped through the streets to evacuate the wounded.
Warplanes dropped flares to counter heat-seeking missiles, he said.
State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said Washington had received reports that the latest Russian and Syrian regime strikes had hit hospitals and clinics.
“We strongly condemn the resumption of air strikes in Syria by the Russians as well as the Syrian regime,” she told reporters.
“The most recent reported attacks are on five hospitals and one mobile clinic in Syria. We believe it’s a violation of international law.”
UN member-states also overwhelmingly condemned escalating attacks against civilians in Aleppo and called for a ceasefire to pave the way to a settlement for Syria’s five-year war.
The assault ended a period of relative respite for more than 250,000 people living in besieged eastern Aleppo.
On October 18, Moscow said it was halting its air strikes ahead of a short-lived truce and Syrian raids also subsided, with bombardment mostly confined to areas where clashes were taking place on the edges of the battered city.
No aid has entered eastern Aleppo since it was first surrounded by government troops in mid-July, and the UN said Thursday it was distributing its last remaining food rations in the rebel districts.
The UN’s food agency, FAO, said a farming crisis across Syria had reduced food production to a record low and raised fears that people would be forced to flee famine.