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Rebel shelling in Syria's Aleppo 'kills Russian nurses'

Rebel shelling on government-controlled Aleppo was one of the most intense in recent days [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 December, 2016

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Two Russian nurses and eight civilians were killed by rebel fire on Monday as western Aleppo came under one of the most intense shelling in recent days.
Rebel shelling killed two Russian nurses and eight civilians on Monday in Aleppo, while a Russian fighter jet crashed as it was returning to an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean after a sortie over Syria, but the pilot ejected safely, Moscow officials said.

The shelling that targeted government-controlled western Aleppo was one of the most intense by rebel forces in recent days.

The rebel assault came amid an intense air and ground assault that has seen forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad recapture more than half of opposition-held eastern Aleppo.

The shelling initially killed one female nurse and wounded two Russian medics working in a field hospital, a Russian officer told reporters in the northern city.

Another nurse who was wounded in the shelling later died, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

"The Russian and Syrian doctors tried their best to save her," Major General Igor Konashenkov said in an emailed statement. Another Russian, a paediatrician, remains in critical condition.

He urged international organisations such as the Red Cross to condemn the attack on the health workers "who were doing their medical duty to help the civilians of Aleppo."

[Click to enlarge]

Meanwhile, Syrian regime artillery, tanks and warplanes pounded rebel-held parts of Aleppo for hours. The airstrikes were so intense that buildings on the western side of the city shook.

Opposition activists and rescue workers said four people were killed in a barrel bomb attack on a rebel-held district, and three more were trapped in the rubble.

Rebels also struck back in the government-held western parts of the city with dozens of mortar shells.

At least eight civilians were killed in different neighbourhoods, according to state news agency SANA.

Among the dead were two children and four women, said the opposition Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Thick smoke billowed from behind Aleppo's famous citadel where Syrian regime forces were advancing from the west and east to try to cut rebel-held districts in half.

On the city's southern edge, heavy machine gun fire could be heard.

Second Russian fighter jet crashes

The Russian Defence Ministry said the Su-33 fighter jet crashed in the Mediterranean as it returned to the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov after a sortie over Syria.

"Because of the failure of the arrester system's cable, the Su-33 fighter rolled off the deck," the ministry said.

The pilot ejected successfully and was unharmed, the ministry said, adding that Russian military operations over Syria would not be affected by the incident.

This is the second loss of an aircraft from the Admiral Kuznetsov since it arrived off Syria last month. A MiG-29 crashed into the sea November 15 while trying to land on the carrier.

Russia entered the war in September 2015, launching bombing raids on Syrian rebels from its air base in Latakia and helping the embattled President Bashar al-Assad turn back the tide after a string of defeats.

So far, massive Russian bombardments of east Aleppo and other rebel areas have helped Syrian regime forces surge through the northern city.

Russian bombing has also resulted in thousands of civilian deaths, according to NGOs, with homes, hospitals and schools believed to be deliberately targeted by Moscow's air force.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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