As the Fragile Syrian Cease-Fire Collapses, Barrel Bombs and Missiles Fall on Aleppo
Syrian government warplanes resumed heavy bombing of the rebel-held section of the city of Aleppo on Monday night, residents and medics in Aleppo said, hours after the Syrian military declared an end to a ceasefire negotiated by the United States and Russia.
Within hours of the declaration, barrel bombs and missiles fell on the rebel sector of Aleppo, according to activists and medical personnel in the area. Residents blamed government forces and the Russian air force for the attacks. At least 12 people were killed, according to the Syrian American Medical Society. Dozens of others were reported injured.
The attacks marked the collapse of a partial ceasefire agreement that went into effect a week earlier following an agreement brokered by the United States and Russia. The deal produced a degree of calm in Syria but failed to provide humanitarian access to besieged cities and towns.
At least one airstrike hit an aid convoy near the city of Aleppo, reportedly destroying at least 10 vehicles delivering food and other items to rebel-held areas west of the city.
The United Nations Special Envoy for the Syrian conflict, Staffan de Mistura, condemned the attack. “Our outrage at this attack is enormous,” he said in a statement quoted by Reuters. “The convoy was the outcome of a long process of permission and preparations to assist isolated civilians,” he also said.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs tweeted images of an inter-agency convoy of aid trucks, believed to the vehicles targeted in the airstrike, on Monday morning.
Medical personnel said hospitals in the rebel-held part of Aleppo had been flooded with wounded people, including children. The shelling included the use of makeshift barrel bombs.
Once Syria’s most populous city, Aleppo has become a fulcrum of the Syrian civil war, divided between president Bashar al-Assad’s regime and rebel forces. The city has been devastated by years of conflict, but a significant population remains, with an estimated 300,000 people living under siege in the rebel-held side.
U.S. secretary of State John Kerry announced the ceasefire early on September 10 following long negotiations with Russia, which supports the Assad regime. The agreement reduced fighting in some parts of Syria for some days, but the truce teetered on the edge of collapse over the weekend as fighting flared up and the government resumed airstrikes on some rebel-held areas. Both sides accused each other of violating the truce.
In addition, U.S.-led international coalition warplanes mistakenly killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers in an attack in the city of Deir al-Zour, in an incident that further weakened the already fragile truce agreement.
The agreement also called for humanitarian aid to be allowed into areas under siege in Syria. As of Monday, aid convoys had not been allowed into the besieged section of Aleppo.