New talks today as Syrian truce ends in bloodshed
Shells and bombs rained down on rebel-held eastern Aleppo yesterday, less than two hours after Syria’s army declared an end to a week-long ceasefire agreed upon by Russia and the US.
Damascus and its ally Moscow blamed rebels for the failure of the truce, but Washington said the terms had not been met for a key aspect of the deal — US-Russia cooperation against jihadists.
The US, Russia and other key players are due to meet in New York today for talks on the process to end Syria’s devastating five-year conflict, which has killed more than 300 000 people and displaced millions.
Stakes had been high when the ceasefire began on September12, with US Secretary of State John Kerry warning at the time that it could be the last chance to save the country.
But it unravelled about an hour before it had been due to expire last night.
An AFP correspondent in Aleppo reported that the northern city was being pummelled.
Sirens wailed as ambulances zipped through the eastern rebel-held half of the divided city and the bombardment was described as non-stop.
The Syrian armed forces announced the end to the truce, blaming rebels it said had violated the ceasefire more than300 times and failed to commit to a single element of the US-Russia deal.
Under the agreement, fighting was to halt across Syria and humanitarian aid would reach desperate civilians – particularly in devastated eastern Aleppo.
The first few days had been calm, but violence escalated sharply, culminating in a deadly US-led air raid at the weekend on a Syrian army position and fresh strikes on Aleppo.
Violence increased across the country yesterday, with fierce clashes reported east of Damascus and one child killed in regime shelling on the edges of Aleppo.
The bloodiest day for civilians was on Sunday, when a barrel bomb attack killed 10 in a southern rebel-held town and one woman died in the first raids on Aleppo since the truce star ted.
Convoys of food and medical aid reached two hard-to-reach areas yesterday, according to David Swanson, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Aid was also delivered to tens of thousands in rebel-held Talbisseh.