Days after the latest ceasefire between the U.S.-backed rebels and the pro-Assad Syrian military officially cratered, war-torn Aleppo received its heaviest bombardment in months late Wednesday, Reuters reports:
“Warplanes mounted the heaviest air strikes in months against rebel-held districts of the city of Aleppo overnight, as Russia and the Syrian government spurned a U.S. plea to halt flights, burying any hope for the revival of a doomed ceasefire.
“Rebel officials and rescue workers said incendiary bombs were among the weapons that rained from the sky on the city. Hamza al-Khatib, the director of a hospital in the rebel-held east, told Reuters the death toll was 45.”
Ammar al-Selmo, head of the civil defense rescue service in eastern Aleppo, said it was “as if the planes are trying to compensate for all the days they didn’t drop bombs,” referring to the week-long ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia that collapsed Monday.
While it isn’t clear whether the strikes were carried out by Russian or Syrian aircraft — or a combination of the two — what is certainly clear now is what both Putin and Assad think of U.S. overtures toward a prolonged pause to the fighting in Aleppo.
“To restore credibility to the process we must move forward to try to immediately ground all aircraft flying in those key areas in order to de-escalate the situation and give a chance for humanitarian assistance to flow unimpeded.”
It’s perhaps ironic to hear Kerry speak of credibility days after a U.S. airstrike killed 62 Syrian soldiers in a purported case of bad intel. Then, when a U.N. aid convoy was attacked this week, killing nearly 20, the U.S. immediately claimed Russia was responsible — an accusation it has since backed away from.
The Russians, in fact, immediately questioned the validity of the convoy attack, itself, as Underground Reporter has previously written. A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry stated that, after viewing all available footage, his team found:
“There are no shell holes, cars’ bodies are not damaged and there are no construction faults from the bust wave. All shown on the footage is a direct consequence of the cargo being set on fire.”
In an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the fighting in Syria would “drag on” as long as “external factors” keep inserting themselves into the conflict.
Late Wednesday’s spike in violence may signal the coming of a renewed intensity to the fighting in Aleppo. Most analysts already agree the latest failed ceasefire was the last shot at peace in Syria during an Obama administration.