Syria’s civil war: Aleppo bleeds amid truce efforts
At least three people have been killed in a rebel rocket attack on a hospital in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
The attack was part of a shelling that left at least 19 people dead in government-controlled areas of the city on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the UK-based monitoring group, said.
Rebels and forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been battling each other with rockets and bombs across Aleppo and its outskirts for days now.
A partial truce is in effect in Syria but it does not cover Aleppo, the country’s largest city and the scene of its worst violence in recent weeks.
Syria’s conflict erupted in 2011 after the repression of anti-government protests and has since morphed into a complex, multi-faceted war.
Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy for Syria, recently estimated that 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far.
In Sunday’s violence, government forces carried out air strikes on Aleppo’s rebel-held areas, including the Sakkour neighbourhood, after the rebels’ rocket attack.
Syria’s Ikhbariya News said three women were killed and 17 injured inside the hospital, located in the Muhafaza neighbourhood.
“[Dozens] martyred and wounded in rockets fired by terrorists at al-Dabbit Hospital,” Syrian state TV said.
The army said rebels had launched a widespread attack on civilian areas and hit the hospital.
It accused groups including al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam of being behind the shelling.
SOHR also reported casualties at al-Dabbit Hospital, adding that the building had been heavily damaged.
It said that rebel shelling of government-held areas killed at least 19 people, including three children.
Rebel gains claimed
Zouhir Al Shimale, a local journalist, cast doubt on the veracity of the Syrian government’s claims about the shelling of al-Dabbit Hospital.
“The hospital is 6km away from the rebel held area,” he told Al Jazeera via the messenger service Whatsapp. “Rebels’ guns or simple weapons couldn’t have shelled the facility.
“Syrian state media is trying to put the blame on the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to deflect attention from Assad’s campaign in Aleppo city.”
Several hospitals and clinics have previously been hit by deadly air strikes on rebel-held areas of Aleppo
On the other hand, Ahmad, a local FSA fighter who declined to provide his surname, claimed rebel groups were making gains against government forces in Muhanna and Halab Jadaydeh.
“The fighters have several positions from Assad’s militias so far and the clashes are fierce and ongoing,” he told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.
“This attack is a response to Assad’s continuing campaign of air strikes on the city and his targeting and killing of civilians here.”
Several hospitals and clinics have previously been hit by deadly air strikes on rebel-held areas of Aleppo.
‘Crimes against humanity’
Tuesday’s deaths come on top of the more than 250 people killed in less than two weeks across the city.
The Syrian opposition has accused the government of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” in Aleppo as barrel bombs – crude and unguided explosives – have been dropped on the city and surrounding areas.
Fayad Mohammad, a resident of al-Sheikh Fares district in eastern Aleppo, said his neighbourhood was struck seven times on Tuesday.
He said barrel bombs and shells had been pounding his neighbourhood.
“There is a lot of damage,” he told Al Jazeera.
“We hoped that we would be included in yesterday’s ceasefire agreement, but the warplanes are still in the sky.
“We haven’t been able to go to our house since early morning because there is heavy artillery fire and shelling. We might die or get very badly injured by the random strikes.”
Hamed Kasem, who lives in the Shaar area of eastern Aleppo, said he had seen many civilians injured as the attacks continued in his neighbourhood.
Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies