United Nations hopeful of humanitarian pause in Aleppo fighting

Cheryl Sanders
August 8, 2016

The latest civilian deaths come as rebels press an assault meant to break a government siege of opposition-held Aleppo that began on July 17 and has raised fears of a humanitarian crisis. However, army officials reported that their forces were able to repel the attack and kill "hundreds of insurgents".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition monitor, said there were at least 40 air strikes on opposition areas, including on a camp for displaced people in Atareb, south-west of Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition factions have launched what they said was the "fourth stage" of their battle in Aleppo, with reports saying the factions might soon lift the siege of the rebel-controlled areas.

Photojournalist and Aleppo resident Karam Al Masri counted 27 strikes on the area since the morning, and three more barrel bombs dropped as he spoke to CNN in the early evening.

In Damascus, a visiting top Iranian lawmaker said the Syrian government and its allies seek to "liberate" tens of thousands of Aleppo's residents from the grip of what he called terrorist groups.

The Russian military says Syrian militants have used a toxic agent against civilians in Aleppo, killing seven and sickening another 23 people.

It said that the strikes were mounted by unidentified aircraft overnight on the besieged opposition-held Eastern Aleppo.

But they have struggled to hold newly acquired territory in the face of heavy Russian air strikes, Abdel Rahman said.

The Observatory said 50 rebels and allied jihadists had been killed since the assault began, as well as dozens of regime troops.

"We are in intensive discussions with the Russian Federation and the government of Syria to ensure that the civilian population in Aleppo is protected and that standards of global humanitarian law are respected in any operation of humanitarian assistance", Ramzy said.

Syrian state media said on Tuesday that five people were killed and that eight others suffered injuries induced by suffocation after rebels fired rockets containing poison gases. "But if the rebels will not leave and prefer to fight on, he will want the people out so he can bomb the city at will without lots of civilian casualties", said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.

A doctor from Idlib province told AFP on Wednesday that those affected had been treated and sent home. The United States and Russian Federation were in intensive discussions to "shore up" Syria's collapsed nationwide truce and their military experts were still trying to agree a cooperation plan "that would unlock the entire solution", Ramzy said.

Russian Federation denies a chemical attack took place.

Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to United Nations figures.

Other reports by iNewsToday