Syrian and Russian warplanes again pounded rebel-held east Aleppo today ahead of a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the worst surge in violence to hit the devastated city in years.
Residents and a monitor reported heavy air raids overnight and early today on the besieged east of the city, which Syria’s army has pledged to retake.
The UN Security Council was due to meet later in an emergency session to discuss the escalating violence, which UN chief Ban Ki-moon described as “chilling”.
Washington and its European allies said before the meeting that the burden was on Moscow – a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime – to save a truce that fell apart in the past week.
At least 115 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syrian and Russian bombardment of eastern Aleppo since the army on Thursday announced an operation to take it, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The monitor said at least 19 children were among those killed in the assault, which has included missile strikes, barrel bomb attacks and artillery fire.
Residents said cluster bombs rained down last night on eastern parts of the city, where an estimated 250,000 people are living under a government siege.
“All night long they were dropping cluster bombs. I couldn’t sleep until four in the morning,” said 62-year-old Ahmed Hajar, who was out looking for bread in Al-Kalasseh neighbourhood.
“Today the streets of my neighbourhood are full of unexploded cluster bombs. One person was killed when he disturbed one and it exploded,” he added.
“It tore him apart… it was an awful scene.”
In the nearby neighbourhood of Bab al-Nayrab, 30-year-old Imad Habush was baking bread in a small wood-burning oven outside his house.
“None of the bakeries are open any more because of the bombing and the shortages of fuel and flour, so people have started making their own bread,” he said.
“I don’t know why the regime is bombing us in this barbaric way. We’re civilians here, we’re not carrying weapons, and we’re besieged, we have no way to escape.”
Air strikes were continuing on the eastern neighbourhoods today, the Observatory said, with at least 14 civilians, including two children, killed since dawn.
Once Syria’s economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been ravaged by war and roughly divided since mid-2012 between government control in the west and rebel control in the east.