Mon, Sep 26, 2016 - Page 4 News List

UN chief ‘appalled’ by raids on Aleppo

WAR CRIME?Residents said one type of bomb created earthquake-like tremors that brought down buildings down to their basements where civilians sought shelter

AFP, ALEPPO, Syria

People walk among the rubble after airstrikes hit the rebel-held Tariq al-Bab neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday said he was “appalled by the chilling military escalation” in Syria’s battleground city of Aleppo, where residents cowered indoors as airstrikes toppled buildings and killed at least 45 civilians.

The UN Security Council was set to meet yesterday to discuss the upsurge in violence since the Syrian army announced an offensive to retake the rebel-held east of the devastated city.

About 2 million civilians were left without water in Aleppo after regime bombardment damaged a pumping station and rebels shut down another in retaliation, the UN said.

Ban warned that the use of bunker buster bombs and other advanced munitions against civilians may amount to war crimes, after the Syrian army on Thursday launched the offensive backed by Russian air raids that has cost about 100 lives.

Top EU officials said that the attacks on civilians amount to a “breach of international humanitarian law,” and called for intensified peace efforts.

Washington and leading European powers on Saturday said that “the burden is on Russia ... to salvage diplomatic efforts to restore a cessation of hostilities.”

A week-long ceasefire agreed between the US and Russia ended on Monday last week and efforts to revive the truce failed.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who failed in talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to revive the ceasefire, earlier said: “What is happening in Aleppo today is unacceptable. It is beyond the pale.”

“If people are serious about wanting a peaceful outcome ... they should cease and desist bombing innocent women and children, cease cutting off water and laying siege in medieval terms to an entire community,” he said.

Kerry had harsh words for Moscow’s involvement in the conflict, in comments at a meeting with his European counterparts.

“Russia needs to set an example, not a precedent — an unacceptable precedent, I might add, for the entire world,” he said.

The Syrian regime said it was confident of victory, with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem telling the UN General Assembly that the Syrian army and its allies were making “great strides” in the conflict.

Rebel-held eastern districts of Aleppo came under intense air and artillery fire for a fifth night on Friday.

“Our belief in victory is even greater now that the Syrian Arab Army is making great strides in its war against terrorism, with the support of the true friends of the Syrian people,” Muallem told the UN, singling out Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

Saturday’s death toll of 45 in Aleppo city was expected to rise because people remained trapped in the rubble, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

It said another seven people were killed elsewhere in Aleppo province on Saturday.

“We were home when a missile crashed into our road,” said one resident of the Bab al-Nayrab district who gave his name as Nizar.

“Half of the building just caved in and our baby was hit on the head. He died on the spot,” Nizar said, the body of his son on the ground wrapped in a blanket.

Seven people were killed in a strike as they queued to buy yoghurt at a market in the Bustan al-Qasr district on the front line dividing the government-held west from the rebel-held east of the city.

On Friday, at least 47 people were killed in heavy bombing, among them seven children, the observatory said.

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