Damascus: Clashes and air strikes shook the Syrian city of Aleppo, leaving three civilians dead as heavy fighting resumed after the end of a three-day ceasefire declared by government ally Russia. The unilateral ceasefire ended on Sunday without any evacuations by the UN, which had hoped to bring wounded civilians out of the rebel-held east and deliver aid after weeks of government bombardment and a three-month siege.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said strikes and artillery fire hit eastern districts after heavy clashes overnight along the front line dividing the city’s government-held west from the east. The Britain-based Observatory said at least three civilians including a woman and a child were killed in rocket strikes targeting a rebel-held area, warning that with several people wounded the death toll could rise.
On Sunday, the Observatory reported the first air strikes since Moscow announced a temporary halt in the Syrian army’s Russian-backed offensive to recapture the east of the city. It said at least three people were wounded in artillery fire on the east, while rebels fired a barrage of rockets and mortar rounds into a government-held neighbourhood.
Government forces and allied fighters, meanwhile, had advanced on the southern outskirts of Aleppo, the Observatory said on Sunady, seizing territory overlooking rebel-held areas. The ceasefire had been intended to allow civilians and rebels to leave the east.
The army opened eight evacuation corridors, but only a handful of civilians were reported to have crossed through a single passage. Russian officials and Syrian state media accused rebels of preventing people from leaving and using civilians as “human shields”.
On Sunday, the White House condemned the Syrian regime’s “defiance” of international law after a UN panel attributed a third chemical weapons attack to government forces.