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Hundreds die as Aleppo is hit by heaviest bombings in five years

by David Gilbert
Nov 21 2016, 7:15am

The renewed assault on rebel-held eastern Aleppo has left hundreds of civilians dead and hundreds more injured. The rise in casualties comes at a time when there is no longer any fully functioning hospitals in the city’s eastern area, and amid reports of a chemical attack that killed a family of six.

The assault picked up again last Tuesday when Syrian government planes, backed by Russian jets, resumed airstrikes on the eastern part of the city in an effort to break the rebel’s hold on the area. The attacks have been described as “the heaviest bombardment” seen during the five year Syrian War, with one resident describing conditions in the eastern part of the city as “a Holocaust.

The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, said on Saturday that the death toll in eastern Aleppo since bombing resumed was 289. Yet with 950 people injured and dozens more still missing, the death toll is likely to rise.

A graphic video published by activists claimed to show the bodies of four children killed by chlorine gas. According to reports, the four children and their parents were killed on Saturday night when a barrel bomb laced with chlorine hit their home in east Aleppo’s Sakhour district. Two medics told Reuters that the al-Baytounji family suffocated to death due to exposure of to chlorine gas. The Syrian regime denies using chlorine gas bombs, which would violate the international Chemical Weapons Convention.

According to the World Health Organization, there are no functioning hospitals available to those trapped in eastern Aleppo following attacks this week that targeted the area’s health facilities. There are some services still available through smaller clinics, WHO said, but the only pediatric facility in the area is now out of service.

The recent uptick in attacks has hit both sides of the besieged city. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, eight children — aged between 6 and 12 — were killed when a school in the government-held part of Aleppo was hit by rebel shelling. Two adults were also killed in the strike.

Eastern Aleppo, where an estimated 250,000 people are still living, has been cut off from the outside world by government forces. It has already run out of most food rations, medicines, bandages and fuel — and has very little water. On Sunday the UN announced it had outlined a method to deliver much-needed aid to eastern Aleppo and urged all sides to agree to the plan.

According to AFP, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC summit in Peru on Sunday, urging him to make greater efforts to end the violence in Syria.