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Assad and Russian Forces Bombard City, Today in Aleppo Syria

Syrian government forces and their Russian allies launched a major new offensive on opposition-held areas of Aleppo on Friday, bombarding the city with dozens of airstrikes and threatening to launch a ground invasion.

A video shot by a witness showed buildings burning after an airstrike on the Mwasalat neighborhood in the eastern part of the city.

The bombing Thursday night and Friday morning shook the ground and made streets impassible, according to anti-government activists in Aleppo.

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Assad and Russian Forces Bombard City
Buildings got down to earth and turned into Rubble
Inspecting the damage in rebel-held Tariq al-Bab. CreditAbdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

“Can you hear it? The neighborhood is getting hit right now by missiles. We can hear the planes right now,” Mohammad Abu Rajab, a radiologist in Aleppo, told Reuters. “The planes are not leaving the sky: helicopters, barrel bombs, warplanes.”

The assault Friday on Aleppo left residents buried in the rubble, including a child in the al-Marja neighborhood of the city.

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Assad and Russian Forces Bombard City
People found dead after bombarding
The body of a child is pulled from the rubble in al-Marja. CreditAmeer Alhalbi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which opposes the government and tracks the conflict from Britain, said at least 27 people had been killed in the overnight bombardment of Aleppo. Witnesses in the city reported more casualties.

The escalation was the clearest sign yet that efforts to restore a cease-fire that ended this week had failed, and that the Syrian government had returned to trying to stamp out the rebel movement and seize ground through military force.

Ammar al-Salmo, head of Aleppo’s Civil Defense Force, a volunteer rescue squad, said that three of his group’s centers had been bombed, and that some of their rescue vehicles had been knocked out.

“It is as if Russia and the regime used the truce only to maintain their weapons and plan on next targets,” Mr. Salmo said from Aleppo. “It is like doomsday today in Aleppo.”

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Assad and Russian Forces Bombard City
Assad and Russian Forces Bombard City
The Tariq al-Bab neighborhood. CreditAbdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

The Syrian government announced the new offensive in its state-controlled news media on Friday, quoting an unnamed Syrian military official who described the Aleppo operation as “comprehensive” and said it could continue for some time. The official said the operation would “include a ground offensive.”

The intensified assault on rebel-held parts of Aleppo came after efforts to revive a partial cease-fire in the conflict stalled in New York, where diplomats from the International Syria Support Group had been meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly annual session.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, said Friday that no new agreements were expected, according to the Interfax news agency.

Jean-Marc Aryault, the foreign minister of France, one of the members of the International Syria Support Group, said he feared the diplomatic paralysis reflected a growing weariness with the daily horrors of the Syrian war.

“Will we be inured to this?” he asked. “Let’s not let Aleppo become the 21st-century Guernica.”

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and industrial center before the civil war began in 2011,has been divided for years between government and rebel forces.

Before the partial cease-fire declared last week, rebels would often shell civilian neighborhoods in western Aleppo, and the government of Bashar al-Assad regularly bombed rebel-held eastern Aleppo, cutting civilians off from much needed aid.

Despite the violence, most of the city’s front lines have remained stable, with both sides lacking the manpower necessary to seize and hold significant new territory.

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