SYRIA CONFLICT

Jets pound rebel-held Aleppo as army offensive begins

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 9:39pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 10:07pm

Warplanes targeted rebel-held areas of eastern Aleppo on Friday, in a second day of heavy bombardment hours after the army announced the start of a military operation there, rescue workers and activists said.

The Syrian military, which is backed by the Russian air force, said late on Thursday that it was starting a new operation against the rebel-held east, which is home to at least 250,000 people and was also targeted in heavy air strikes on Thursday.

What’s happening now is ­annihilation
Ammar al Selmo, the head of the Aleppo civil defence rescue service

The Syrian military could not immediately be reached for comment yesterday and there was no word on casualties. Ammar al Selmo, the head of the civil defence rescue service in eastern Aleppo, said a squadron of five warplanes was in the skies over the city, identifying them as Russian.

A fresh wave of bombing had started at from 6am local time, after heavy overnight attacks, he said. “What’s happening now is ­annihilation,” he said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 30 air strikes had targeted different areas of Aleppo from midnight.

The group said an intense bombing campaign had targeted several neighbourhoods in the rebel-held part of Aleppo city, including centres of the award-winning volunteer civil defence group known as the White Helmets.

Rami Abdurrahman of the human rights group said that government troops seized buildings on the front line, pushing back rebel fighters in the southern al-Amiriah district.

Defiant Assad blames US for collapse of Syria truce and denies Aleppo is under siege

Ibrahim Alhaj, a member of the Syrian Civil Defence said the bombing targeted two civil defence centres yesterday in rebel-held Aleppo, putting one out of service.

Earlier, the United States and Russia failed to agree on how to revive a short-lived ceasefire in Syria during what the UN Syria mediator called a “long, painful, difficult and disappointing” meeting on Thursday.

Aleppo hit by ‘most intense’ strikes in months, as Putin, Assad spurn US plea to halt flights

“We have exchanged ideas with the ­Russians and we plan to consult tomorrow with respect to those ideas,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said. “I am no less determined today than I was yesterday but I am even more frustrated.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press