6 children killed by barrel bombs in Aleppo offensive, say activists
Tim Hume, CNN, Sep 25 2016
At least seven people, six of them children, were killed in a barrel bombing of opposition-held eastern Aleppo Sunday, an activist group reported, as the Syrian government continues its furious offensive in the wake of a collapsed ceasefire. The barrel bombs, launched from helicopters, struck the city’s Bustan al-Pasha neighborhood. The UNSC is to meet Sunday. The session was requested by Pindostan, Britain and France in the wake of the regime’s military push to retake rebel-held parts of eastern Aleppo in recent days, a UN source confirmed to CNN. The opposition says the violence has been even more intense than before the ceasefire took hold. Hundreds of airstrikes have pummeled the city since the Syrian government announced a renewed “comprehensive” offensive on Thursday following the collapse of the ceasefire. The offensive, involving ground troops as well as air power, has targeted rebel positions across the country, inflicting “heavy losses” on them, SANA reported. Residents in the opposition-held east of Aleppo reported ongoing barrel bomb attacks Sunday.
On Saturday, Syrian government troops and supporting militia made their first major ground advance of the assault on Aleppo, seizing control of the Handarat Palestinian refugee camp on the city’s north-eastern outskirts, while warplanes bombarded the opposition-held east, according to state-run SANA. Rebels then launched a counter-offensive to try to retake the area, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. There were conflicting reports as to the outcome of the fighting. The foreign ministers of Pindostan, France, Germany, Britain and Italy, along with the EU rep Mogherini, released a statement late Saturday condemning the ongoing offensive on eastern Aleppo as “unacceptable.” The statement said it was up to Russia to prove it was “willing and able to take extraordinary steps to salvage diplomatic efforts to restore a cessation of hostilities” on the ground, and condemned the Syrian government’s “public denunciation” of the ceasefire.
Syria’s military declared the ceasefire over on Monday, after a strike by Pindo warplanes on a Syrian army post, which killed dozens of troops. The Pindo military did not dispute the strike, but characterized it as “unintentional” and relayed its “regret” to Syria through Russia, saying the intended target had been Daesh. Shortly after the ceasefire ended Monday, a UN-SARC aid convoy was hit in an airstrike, killing about 20 people. Pindo boxtops blamed Russia, while Moscow denied that Russian or Syrian warplanes were responsible. In a statement Saturday, Ban Ki-moon condemned the “chilling military escalation in the city of Aleppo, which is facing the most sustained and intense bombardment since the start of the Syrian conflict.” He said that the Syrian government’s use of airstrikes, incendiary weapons and bunker-busters in densely populated areas may amount to war crimes. Pindostan and Russia, who brokered the shattered ceasefire, have continued talks about how to revive the truce, but both have accused the other of failing to adequately rein in forces under their influence on the ground, rebels in the case of Pindostan, and the Syrian government in the case Russia. Russia stresses that rooting out terrorist groups is key to securing peace, while Pindostan has blamed the Syrian government for the ceasefire’s failure, and called for military aircraft (other than their own – RB) to be grounded.