Aleppo: 240 civilians killed in 6 days, All hospitals destroyed

Aleppo: 240 civilians killed in 6 days, All hospitals destroyed

The besieged parts of Aleppo is being pounded by the heaviest bombardment in years, in a new military operation Assad regime started last Tuesday to retrieve the city under its control.

Around 275,000 people trapped by the siege of eastern Aleppo have been suffering from intense air strikes that battered the eastern part of the city since Tuesday, when Assad regime and its allies resumed operations after a pause lasting weeks. They launched ground attacks against insurgent positions on Friday.

In the four days since bombardment resumed on eastern Aleppo, the Observatory says it has documented 65 deaths and hundreds of injuries in east Aleppo, and four deaths and dozens of injuries in government-held west Aleppo as a result of rebel rocket fire.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said 54 people, including at least five children, had been killed in eastern Aleppo on Saturday by dozens of air strikes and barrel bombs and dozens of artillery rounds.

Airstrikes continued to hit several districts of eastern Aleppo on Sunday and the rebels answered by shelling the western parts of Aleppo.

So far about 240 people have been killed in bombing in east Aleppo and the rebel-held countryside to the west of the city since Tuesday, the observatory said.

A barrel bomb killed a family of six in rebel-held eastern Aleppo early on Sunday.

Two medics said the al-Baytounji family suffocated to death because the barrel bomb, which fell in the Sakhour district at about midnight, had been laced with chlorine gas.

Video of the Syrian family killed was distributed online by the medics. It showed the bodies of four children stretched out on a floor, their lips blue and dark marks around their open eyes.

Medics and residents in rebel-held areas often accuse the Syrian military of using chlorine in barrel bomb attacks.

All hospitals destroyed

All hospitals in Syria’s besieged rebel-held eastern Aleppo are out of service after days of heavy air strikes, its health directorate and the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday.

An official with a rebel group based in east Aleppo said there were still no working hospitals there on Sunday.

Dr Ahmed Mbayed, of the Canadian Medical Relief Organization, confirmed that all medical facilities in besieged Aleppo “are totally out of service”.

“The people are hopeless now. They don’t have any access to essential [medical] services in Aleppo,” he said from Gaziantep, adding that even warehouses with medical supplies had come under attack.

White Helmets rescuers in Aleppo also told Al Jazeera that all their equipment and vehicles had been taken out by the shelling.

On Friday, the only children’s hospital in besieged Aleppo was targeted and became out of action, as it was treating victims of a chlorine gas attack, forcing staff to evacuate babies in incubators and other patients injured over days of fierce bombardment.

As only 30 doctors are left in eastern Aleppo, all the hospitals are destroyed, and the bombing continues to escalate every day, the situation of civilians in besieged areas is worse than ever.

Ground attacks too

Eastern Aleppo suffered not only air attack, but also strong ground attacks aiming at breaking the rebels’ resistance.

The regime’s forces’ persistent and the intensive airstrikes forced the rebels to leave the areas they took during their last offensive.

The army and its allies began some ground attacks on Friday. The Observatory reported intense clashes in Sheikh Saeed, in southeast Aleppo and in Baeedain and Bustan al-Basha, in northeast Aleppo.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, one of the army’s main allies in the fighting, said on Sunday that clashes were taking place in the Hanano district, of northeast Aleppo, and that pro-government forces were bringing large numbers of reinforcements to the city.

Sources on both sides said pro-government militias were mobilised in large numbers.

An official in the Levant Front rebel group, which fights under the Free Syrian Army banner, told Reuters that the pro-government forces appeared to be seeking to advance along a highway that bisects the rebel-held part of Aleppo.

His group lost a commander along with a number of his men in the fighting, he said. “The militias are coming in strongly in the areas they are trying to storm. There are few frontlines in Syria in general at the moment, most of the focus of the regime and militias is in Aleppo,” he said.

The Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shi’ite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, has been tightening its grip on rebel-held districts of Aleppo this year, and this summer achieved a long-held goal of fully encircling the area.

Recovering full control of the rebels’ last significant urban area would be the most important victory of the war so far for Assad, strengthening his control over Syria’s most populous and strategically important regions.