Syria regime bombs rebels as Aleppo food aid runs out
ALEPPOSyrian government and Russian warplanes pounded rebel-held parts of northern Syria on Nov. 16, including battered second city Aleppo, where food aid rations were all-but-exhausted after months of regime siege.
The renewed bombardment has killed at least 20 people, including nine children, in Aleppo alone in the last 24 hours, and sparked anger from the United States and United Nations.
It comes as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview that U.S. president-elect Donald Trump could be a “natural ally” if he fights “terrorists,” as he had vowed during his election campaign.
Damascus considers all those who oppose Assad’s government to be “terrorists” like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which Trump has said should be the focus of U.S. involvement in Syria.
Damascus and its ally Russia launched a wide-ranging assault on rebels on Nov. 15, shattering a month of relative calm in the rebel-held east of devastated Aleppo.
An AFP correspondent in the east reported heavy bombardment throughout the night and into the morning.
And the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said at least 12 civilians, among them four children, had been killed in government air strikes and artillery fire in eastern Aleppo on Nov. 16.
That followed the deaths of at least eight civilians in the besieged opposition-held side of the city on Nov. 15, the monitor said.
The Observatory also reported ongoing strikes in Idlib province, in northwestern Syria, which is mostly controlled by a coalition of rebel groups including al-Qaeda’s former affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front.
The monitor said six people had been killed in strikes in the village of Kafr Jalis in Idlib on the night of Nov. 15.
“The shelling targeted innocent civilians in their homes in Kafr Jalis, and there is a lot of destruction,” said Yahya Arja from the White Helmets civil defence in the province.
“We worked through the night to lift the debris and remove the martyrs and surviving civilians, and now we’re trying to remove the rubble blocking the roads,” he told AFP.
The bombardment ended a period of relative respite, particularly in eastern Aleppo, where Moscow halted air strikes on Oct. 18 ahead of a series of brief ceasefires.
Food aid stockpiled in the east is all-but-exhausted, with international organizations and their local partners saying they were distributing the final rations in recent days.
No aid has entered the eastern neighborhoods since government troops surrounded it in mid-July.