Aleppo fighting resumes, bringing 'humanitarian truce' to violent end
Heavy clashes erupted between regime and rebel forces in Syria's divided city of Aleppo after a "humanitarian" ceasefire announced by government ally Russia expired before the UN could evacuate wounded civilians from rebel-held areas.
"Russian military aircraft targeted the town of Orum al-Kubra in Aleppo's western countryside," media activist Mohamed al-Halabi told The New Arab.
"The Syrian regime's artillery, based in the neighbourhood of al-Hamdaniyah, targeted the besieged districts of Salaheddin and al-Mashhad in eastern Aleppo, leaving a few civilians wounded," he added.
Moscow had extended the unilateral "humanitarian pause" into a third day until 1600 GMT on Saturday, but announced no further renewal, as fierce fighting broke in several areas along the front line dividing the city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
Neither residents nor rebels of opposition-held districts heeded calls from Syria's army and Moscow to leave during the ceasefire, after weeks of devastating bombardment and a three-month government siege.
The pause, which began on Thursday, came after Moscow announced a temporary halt to the Syrian army's campaign to recapture the divided city.
The army opened eight corridors for evacuations, but just a handful of people crossed through a single passage, with the others remaining deserted.
"Members of popular civil committees from regime districts entered the eastern neighbourhoods to try to evacuate the injured but failed," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said earlier on Saturday.
|The Syrian regime's artillery targeted the besieged districts of Salaheddin and al-Mashhad in eastern Aleppo, leaving a few civilians wounded.
- Mohamed al-Halabi
Syrian state media and Russian authorities have accused rebels in the east of preventing civilians from leaving and using them as "human shields".
On Saturday, the White House condemned the Assad regime's "defiance" of international norms after United Nations experts found the Syrian army had conducted three chemical weapons attacks against its own people in 2014 and 2015.
"The Syrian regime has violated the Chemical Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 2118 by using industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people," National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
The US is working to bring those responsible to account, he added.
More than 2,000 civilians have been wounded since the army launched its offensive to drive the rebels out of the eastern districts they have held since 2012. Nearly 500 people have been killed.