Syria has launched the heaviest airstrikes in months against rebel-held areas in Aleppo as diplomats failed to revive a US-Russia-brokered ceasefire that collapsed this week.
The new offensive in Syria’s commercial hub and largest city dealt a fresh blow to efforts to end a civil war that has raged since 2011.
Rebel officials and rescue workers said incendiary bombs were among the weapons that rained down on Aleppo.
Hamza al-Khatib, the director of a hospital in the rebel-held east, told Reuters 45 people were killed.
“It’s as if the planes are trying to compensate for all the days they didn’t drop bombs” during the ceasefire, Ammar al-Selmo, the head of the civil defense rescue service in opposition-held eastern Aleppo told Reuters.
Moscow and Washington announced the ceasefire with fanfare on Sept. 9 but the agreement, possibly the final bid for a breakthrough on Syria before President Barack Obama leaves office in January, collapsed like all previous peace efforts.
Syrian state media announced the new offensive and quoted the army’s military headquarters in Aleppo urging civilians in eastern parts of the city to avoid areas where “terrorists” were located and said it had prepared exit points for those who want to flee, including rebels.
The Syrian army announcement did not say whether the campaign would also include a ground incursion.
The aerial assault, by aircraft from the Syrian government, its Russian allies or both, signaled Moscow and Damascus had rejected a plea by US Secretary of State John Kerry to halt flights so that aid could be delivered and the ceasefire salvaged.
In a tense televised exchange with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the United Nations on Wednesday, Kerry said stopping the bombardment was the last chance to find a way “out of the carnage”.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad indicated he saw no quick end to the war, telling the Associated Press it would “drag on” as long as it is part of a global conflict in which terrorists are backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the United States.
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