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Warplanes kill 45 in Aleppo — but Assad says civilian deaths aren't his fault

Overnight Syrian warplanes bombarded several districts in the rebel-held eastern part of the city, with multiple reports of phosphorous bombs being used by the troops of president Bashar al-Assad.
Members of the Civil Defence rescue children after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria June 2, 2014. REUTERS/Sultan Kitaz

Syrian warplanes bombarded several districts in the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo overnight with multiple reports of phosphorous bombs being used by the troops of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

An exact death toll is still unknown but the director of al-Quds hospital Dr. Hamza al-Khatib told Reuters on Thursday that at least 45 people had died in the overnight bombing raids. Warplanes mounted the heaviest air strikes in months against rebel-held districts of Aleppo, rebel officials and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the agency.


— Sakir Khader (@sakirkhader)September 22, 2016

On Twitter, users posted videos claiming to show the aftermath of the the phosphorous bombs being dropped on the city.

The attacks came hours after Syria's President Bashar al-Assad claimed he bears no responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of people killed during the six years of civil war, and said war was likely to "drag on" because of continued external support for his opponents.

al-Assad made the claim in an interview published by the AP published on Thursday just hours before the most intense air strikes seen in the Syrian city of Aleppo for months resulted in dozens of deaths, and all but confirming that a fragile ceasefire brokered between the US and Russia lies in ruins.

On Wednesday the US Secretary of State John Kerry pleaded with the United Nations Security Council to call for an immediate grounding of all military aircraft in "key areas" of Syria. Despite an attack on an aid convoy this week, Kerry still claimed that a ceasefire negotiated with his Russian counterpart Sergey V. Lavrov just 12 days ago, still held.

al-Assad blamed the US for the collapse of the ceasefire and said Syria and Russia had nothing to do with an attack on an aid convoy Monday that killed 20 people and destroyed 18 of 31 trucks. The US blamed Russian aircraft for carrying out the attack, something Russia has denied, questioning whether there was evidence that it was an airstrike at all.


The attack came just hours after al-Assad declared the ceasefire was over, accusing rebel groups of violating the deal.

?Horrific footage of residential buildings on fire after regime/Russian phosphorous strikes on Aleppo — ??? ????? (@siryahora)September 22, 2016

The ceasefire had been broken previously by the US, when it killed 62 Syrian troops and wounded 100 when warplanes carried out an airstrike in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour. The US has acknowledged the attack, claiming their were seeking to hit Islamic State targets. In his interview on Wednesday, al-Assad said the attack on Syrian troops was intentional, adding that the U.S. lacked "the will" to join forces with Russia in fighting extremists.

Despite the attack on the aid convoy this week, the UN said it will resume aid deliveries to besieged areas of Syria with an estimated 1 million living in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

"The preparation for these convoys has now resumed and we are ready to deliver aid to besieged and hard to reach areas as soon as possible," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told the Guardian.