Russian and Syrian warplanes yesterday again pounded Aleppo after two days of heavy bombardment that killed more than scores of civilians, as world powers prepared for last-ditch weekend talks on a ceasefire.
More than 20 air strikes hit the rebel-controlled eastern part of Aleppo at dawn yesterday, killing seven civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
On the northeastern outskirts of the city, advancing regime troops captured several hilltops overlooking opposition-held areas.
Syrian state television said four children were killed by rebel rocket fire on a school in a Western regime-held neighborhood.
The bombing has killed more than 150 people this week, rescue workers said yesterday.
Airstrikes killed 13 people yesterday, when warplanes hit several rebel-held districts, including al-Kalaseh, Bustan al-Qasr and al-Sakhour, civil defence official Ibrahim Abu al-Laith said from Aleppo.
“The bombing started at 2am and it’s going on till now,” he said.
Seven children were among 71 civilians killed in strikes and regime artillery fire on eastern districts on Tuesday and Wednesday, observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
At least eight civilians were killed in opposition shelling of government-held districts over those two days, according to the British-based monitor, which relies on a network of sources on the ground.
Since the army announced its assault on the city on Sept. 22, Russian and government bombardment on the eastern districts has killed more than 370 people, including 68 children, according to an observatory toll.
Shelling and rocket fire by myriad rebel and militant groups, meanwhile, has killed 68 people in government-held areas.
Several major international efforts have failed to secure a political solution to the war, which has killed more than 300,000 people.
Moscow has come under mounting international pressure over the rising civilian death toll from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Russian-backed campaign to take east Aleppo, including Western accusations of possible war crimes.
A new diplomatic push will take place this weekend. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov are expected to be joined in Lausanne tomorrow by their counterparts from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — all backers of Syrian opposition forces.
Neither side has confirmed an invitation to Iran, a key player in the conflict and an ally of al-Assad.
Kerry will likely meet up with his European counterparts from Britain, France and Germany in London on Sunday.
The UN said UN Special Eenvoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura had been invited to take part in the talks, but it was unclear if he would attend.
Lavrov on Wednesday told CNN in an interview that he hoped the discussions in Switzerland could help “launch a serious dialogue” based on the now-defunct US-Russian pact.
New Zealand on Wednesday presented another draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding an end to air strikes on Aleppo.
In other developments, the government has partially approved a UN aid plan for this month, but not the UN’s request to deliver assistance to eastern Aleppo, diplomats said yesterday.
Damascus has given a green light for convoys of 25 to 29 vehicles to besieged and hard-to-reach areas across Syria, they said.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big