BEIRUT (AFP) - Leading charities called Saturday for a ceasefire in the battered Syrian city of Aleppo, ahead of a meeting of world powers in Switzerland to discuss the carnage.
Four global NGOs issued the joint plea "to establish a ceasefire of at least 72 hours in east Aleppo", where an estimated 250,000 live under bombardment and are besieged by pro-government forces.
"This will allow the sick and wounded to be evacuated, and for food and medical aid to enter the besieged area," said a statement from one of the charities, Save the Children.
The foreign ministers of the United States and Russia, which support opposite sides in Syria's five-year war, were due to meet Saturday in Lausanne to restart a tattered peace process.
Moscow has faced rising international criticism over its backing for President Bashar al-Assad's onslaught in divided Aleppo, including Western accusations of possible war crimes.
Violence has continued unabated in the northern city, once Syria's commercial hub but now ravaged by Russian and regime air strikes in support of a major government offensive against rebels.
More than 370 people, including nearly 70 children, have been killed in regime and Russian bombardment of east Aleppo since the pro-government assault began on September 22, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.
"We have failed Syria's children for too long and there must be accountability for what's happening to them in Aleppo," Save the Children International head Helle Thorning-Schmidt said in the statement.
The International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Oxfam International also joined the call for a truce in Aleppo.
"The children of Aleppo cannot wait for a war of words to play out; time is running out for them," Thorning-Schmidt said.