UPDATE 1700 GMT: The Local Coordination Committees reported that more than 50 people have been killed in and near Aleppo today, almost all by Russian-regime airstrikes and shelling.
An LCC correspondent said more than 30 people were killed and dozens injured in bombing of houses in Oweijel, west of Aleppo. Another 14 died and dozens were injured in the Marja district in the city.
UPDATE 1530 GMT: Images of al-Qaterji in Aleppo after the latest Russian-regime bombing:
(Photos: Karam al-Masri/AFP)
Aftermath of airstrikes on Jisr al-Shughour in Idlib Province:
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Despite the resumption of international talks over Syria’s crisis, Russia and the Assad regime are continuing their bombing of civilians in and beyond Aleppo.
Russian warplanes reportedly knocked out yet another medical facility, this time in Latamneh in northern Hama Province, killing five civilians and injuring medical staff. Pro-Assad airstrikes targeted Aleppo districts such as al-Qaterji and Sheikh Fares.
The Local Coordination Committees documented 51 deaths in Aleppo Province yesterday, most of them from the Russian-regime airstrikes. The victims included a family of two men, four women, and eight children.
Since a renewal of bombing on September 19, beginning with the destruction of a UN aid convoy, the attacks have killed more than 600 civilians.
Allegations are circulating that Sunday’s strikes on Latamneh in Hama Province included chlorine canisters, leading to suffocation among civilians.
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) October 16, 2016
Russia has defied international calls to cease the bombing, vetoing a UN Security Council resolution nine days ago. France has said that Moscow is complicit in the regime’s “war crimes”, comparing the attacks to the destruction of Spain’s Guernica by German bombers in 1937.
The US said earlier this month that it would suspend contacts with Moscow because of the airstrikes. However, Washington convened a multilateral conference, which included the Russians, in Lausanne, Switzerland.
There was no advance in the discussions, but Russia used the event to relieve political pressure. Its shifting of emphasis to “separation” of rebels from the jihadists of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) — who in fact have few fighters in Aleppo — was supported by Iran, the Assad regime’s other main ally, and by Turkey, which has been a leading backer of the Syrian opposition and rebel factions.
Volunteers rescue a boy in Aleppo’s al-Qaterji district on Sunday night — he survived after treatment in hospital:
European Powers Seek More Sanctions on Regime
Britain, France and German said on Sunday that they will seek more European Union sanctions on the Assad regime, while condemning the Russian bombing and pressing for humanitarian aid to Aleppo.
The trio will discuss the situation at a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.
“It is vital that we keep that pressure up,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said following a meeting in London yesterday with US Secretary of State John Kerry. “There are a lot of measures we’re proposing, to do with extra sanctions on the Syrian regime and their supporters, measures to bring those responsible for war crimes to the International Criminal Court.”
A draft diplomatic statement condemns the “catastrophic escalation” of the Russian-regime attacks in an attempt to overrun the opposition areas of Aleppo city. It says that airstrikes on hospitals and civilians “may amount to war crimes”, and calling on the Assad regime “and its allies”.
Diplomats said the EU will also call for a ceasefire with an observation mission, inclusion of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in political talks, and immediate access for an EU aid package announced on October 2.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at Sunday’s meeting in London (Justin Tallis/Reuters)
Britain, France, and Germany are going beyond the draft by calling for economic sanctions on about 20 more Syrians, suspected of directing attacks on civilians.
They would be added to the EU’s existing sanctions list of about 200 Syrians, an oil and arms embargo and a ban on dealing with the Syrian Central Bank.
However, the three powers have not mentioned any limited intervention for protected zones, or even a suspension of Russian and regime military overflights.
Paris and London said on Thursday that they may push other EU leader to consider travel bans and asset freezes on as many as 12 Russians involved in the Syrian conflict.
However, that is not on the agenda for Monday.
Senior Hezbollah Commander Killed in Aleppo
A senior Hezbollah commander, Hatem Hamadeh, has been killed in Aleppo.
A pro-Hezbollah outlet announced the death on Sunday. Another statement of the “martyrdom” said Hamadeh was the “deputy official of the Radwan Forces”, Hezbollah’s elite special operations unit.
Another outlet, Mulhak News, said the commander was killed in the 1070 Apartment Projects, on the front southwest of Aleppo city, by an improvised explosive device that struck the vehicle in which he was travelling. Another field commander and a number of Hezbollah fighters were injured.
Mulhak said Hamadeh was a close associate of Ali Fayyad, a high-ranking Hezbollah official better known as “Alaa Bosnia” who has led a number of the party’s military operations.
Zabadani Council: Glass Shards, Bird Droppings in Aid Delivery
The local council of besieged Zabadani, northwest of Damascus, has said that the most recent delivery of UN food aid contained rice “unsuitable for human or animal consumption”.
The council said that the bags of rice, sent on September 25, contained pieces of glass and bird dung. It asserted that 65% of the 2-ton delivery was not edible.
The council said it notified the manager of the office of UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, but Hezbollah militia surrounding the town prevented a team from entering to take samples.
Contents of latest Assad-approved UN convoy to besieged Zabadani:
1. No life-saving drugs
2. 2000kg rice contaminated w/ glass & bird feces pic.twitter.com/xY71rmUUSY
— Annie Sparrow (@annie_sparrow) October 15, 2016
Zabadani has been besieged since July 2015, when the Syrian military and Hezbollah launched an 86-day offensive to take the town. The offensive could not quell resistance, but the siege has continued of Zabadani and nearby Madaya, where scores of residents have starved to death.