Syria’s regime intensified air strikes on rebel-held areas of Aleppo on Monday, as the UN backed a call by its top aid official for a humanitarian truce in the city.
The push for aid to reach desperate civilians trapped by a regime siege in Syria’s former second city came on the eve of a meeting between a UN envoy, US and Russian officials to try to revive peace talks.
UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien branded the siege on rebel-held parts of Aleppo as “medieval and shameful,” and called for weekly 48-hour humanitarian truces to prevent it from taking hold.
O’Brien warned that food supplies in eastern Aleppo, home to at least 200,000 people, were expected to run out by the middle of next month.
“The international community simply cannot let eastern Aleppo city become yet another — and by far the largest — besieged area,” O’Brien said.
Nearly 600,000 people are estimated to live under siege in Syria, most of them encircled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, whose approval the UN says is needed to deliver aid by air.
Britain, France and the US quickly endorsed O’Brien’s call.
Japanese Ambassador to the UN Koro Bessho, who holds the council presidency, said there was “overwhelming support for the idea” among the 15 council members.
French Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre compared Aleppo’s plight to Sarajevo during the Bosnian war and said the Security Council could not allow “such war crimes” to happen again.
On Monday, air strikes and barrel bombs killed 22 civilians in rebel-held parts of the northern province and rebel rocket fire on government areas killed three more, a monitor said.
A car bomb hit an upmarket area of Damascus housing several government buildings on Monday evening, state news agency SANA reported, saying there were “several wounded.”
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura was expected to meet top US and Russian officials in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday with the aim of reviving peace talks to end the five-year conflict.
US mission spokesman Paul Patin said Washington’s special envoy for Syria Michael Ratney would be at yesterday’s meeting. Ria-Novosti news agency said Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gennady Gatilov would represent Moscow, a key ally of the Syrian regime.
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