Syrian government seizes area in Aleppo attack, death toll climbs

Battle rages near Aleppo, air onslaught continues

Syrian government forces and their Russian allies launched a major new offensive on opposition-held areas of Aleppo on Friday, bombarding the city with dozens of airstrikes and threatening to launch a ground invasion.

“The fighters are waging ferocious battles because it is a battle of existence”, a senior rebel official told Reuters.

The Syrian army said in a statement that the rebels violated the week-long truce over 300 times, adding that the US -led coalition struck positions of the Syrian army during the truce in Deir al-Zour, killing 90 soldiers, which was deemed by Russian Federation as the biggest violation to the truce.

“There are no more roads to walk on”, said Zaher Azzaher, an Aleppo activist reached through WhatsApp.

“Dead bodies”, Selmo said.

The escalation comes as diplomats in NY have failed to salvage a US and Russian-brokered cease-fire that lasted almost a week. It says several of its own headquarters have been targeted.

A second pumping station in the east, which supplies water to about 1.5 million people in the western part of the city, appeared to have been switched off in retaliation, she said.

Parts of the city have been under a near-continuous siege since July.

An AFP correspondent in eastern Aleppo saw massive destruction in several neighbourhoods, including Al-Kalasseh and Bustan al-Qasr, where some streets were nearly erased by the bombardment.

Intense bombardment shook Aleppo on Friday, thunderously underscoring the failure of the latest diplomatic efforts to stem the carnage in Syria’s largest city.

The U.K. -based Syria Observatory on Human Rights said at least 25 people had been killed.

The announcement of the new Syrian army offensive on Thursday came as worldwide powers failed to revive a collapsed ceasefire during diplomatic talks in NY.

Western nations have been “too impotent” in the face of the deepening Syrian crisis, said Boris Johnson as he urged for tougher action against Russian Federation.

Yasser al-Yousef, a spokesman for the Nour el-Din al-Zinki rebel faction, says rebels seized Handarat late Saturday.

Asked about the weapons being used, the military source said the army was using precise weapons “suitable for the nature of the targets being struck, according to the type of fortifications”, such as tunnels and bunkers, and “specifically command centers”.

The Foreign Secretary said exerting pressure on the Syrian government’s key supporter Vladimir Putin could be key -but he feared there was little “political appetite” to take a decisive grip on the crisis.

But the deal has fallen apart, and on Thursday the Syrian army announced an operation to retake all of Aleppo, urging civilians in the east to distance themselves from “terrorists” and promising them safe passage to government-controlled areas.

He said the center believed more than 50 people, including children, were trapped in rubble in different areas of Aleppo.

Both the Russian and Syrian governments deny carrying out the Monday attack on a United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy near Aleppo that killed 20 people.

“One can only speak about the ceasefire revival only on the collective basis”, he said in an interview for the TV news show “Vesti on Saturday”.