Air raids resume in Aleppo after a month

What's left of an ambulance after an air strike on the rebel-held town of Atareb, in the countryside west of Aleppo, Syria, yesterday. A hospital in the town was hit five times on Monday. The strikes destroyed operating rooms and the pharmacy, damaged amb
What's left of an ambulance after an air strike on the rebel-held town of Atareb, in the countryside west of Aleppo, Syria, yesterday. A hospital in the town was hit five times on Monday. The strikes destroyed operating rooms and the pharmacy, damaged ambulances and wounded medical staff. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIRUT • Syrian government air strikes and barrel bomb attacks hit residential neighbourhoods of rebel-held east Aleppo yesterday for the first time in nearly a month.

The bombardment ended a period of relative quiet for more than 250,000 people living in the besieged rebel-held side of the city. Moscow announced on Oct 18 it was halting its air strikes in Aleppo ahead of a short-lived truce, and Syrian strikes on the rebel east have also subsided since then, with bombardment mostly confined to areas where clashes were taking place on the edge of the city.

On Sunday, residents in the east received text messages from the army warning rebels to leave within 24 hours.

A hospital in the village of Awijel in Aleppo province was hit by an air raid. Among the wounded were patients who had been moved there after a hospital in the nearby village of Kafr Naha was hit on Monday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A third hospital - in the town of Atareb - was hit five times on Monday, the group added. The strikes destroyed operating rooms and the hospital pharmacy, damaged ambulances and wounded medical staff.

The raids came as Moscow said jets taking off from the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean had launched their first strikes in Syria, on Idlib and Homs provinces.

"For the first time in our naval history, the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov started taking part in combat," Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, according to Russian TV.

Russia's sole aircraft carrier arrived off the Syrian coast last Saturday as part of a flotilla of ships sent to reinforce Russia's military in the area.

Mr Shoigu said the "major operation" began yesterday morning aiming to inflict heavy damage on "the Islamic State group and the Al-Nusra Front's positions in Idlib and Homs provinces".

Another ship in the flotilla, the frigate Admiral Grigorovich, also fired Kalibr cruise missiles at Syrian targets, the minister said.

The operations targeted stores of ammunition and factories producing chemical warfare agents. "They will continue," Mr Shoigu said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'Air raids resume in Aleppo after a month'. Print Edition | Subscribe