International pressure mounts on Assad to halt Aleppo bombardment

International pressure mounts on Assad to halt Aleppo bombardment
The US urged Assad to cease airstrikes on Aleppo that have killed at least 246 civilians in ten days, as the Arab League prepares for an emergency meeting on Wednesday.
3 min read
01 May, 2016
Syrian refugees protest the bombing in Aleppo at the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece [Anadolu]
The US called on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's forces to halt their brutal bombardment of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo and help restore a nationwide ceasefire.

Secretary of state John Kerry expressed "deep concern" over the lastest wave of violence on Aleppo, that has killed at least 246 civilians in just over 10 days.

Kerry flew to Geneva on Sunday to meet with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura and the Saudi and Jordanian foreign ministers in a bid to revive Syria peace talks, which broke down last week after Syria's main opposition group walked out over continued regime bombardment of Aleppo.

"The secretary made clear that ending the violence in Aleppo and returning ultimately to a durable, nationwide cessation is a top priority," spokesman John Kirby said.

But key regime backer Russia rejected calls to rein in its ally, claiming strikes were targeting al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, a force not party to the ceasefire. 

"No, we are not going to put pressure on [Damascus] because one must understand that the situation in Aleppo is part of this fight against the terrorist threat," deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov said.

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The US dismissed these claims, urging Russia to step in to stop the indiscriminate killing.

"The secretary made clear that we urged Russia to take steps to stop regime violations, especially its indiscriminate aerial attacks in Aleppo," Kirby said.

Meanwhile, Arab League envoys are set to meet on Wednesday following a call for an emergency meeting by Qatar over the escalation of violence and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Aleppo.

Saudi Arabia condemned the Syrian regime's air raids on the war-torn city, which led to the destruction of four hospitals in two days.

These acts ignore the cessation of hostilities agreement and breaches international laws, Saudi's foreign ministry said.

Human Rights Watch said the airstrikes on medical facilities in Aleppo "may amount to war crimes".

Sunday saw a fresh round of air raids across western and southern Aleppo, local sources told The New Arab.

Regime airstrikes hit al-Myassar neighbourhood in Aleppo and barrel bombs were dropped on Bano Zaid north of the city, sources added.

Dozens of civilians fled the city on Saturday after at least 10 were killed by the bombardment on rebel-held areas.

Meanwhile, demonstrators took to the streets across the world to protest against the Syrian regime brutality as social media users turned their profile pictures red in solidarity with Aleppo.

In neighbouring Lebanon's capital Beirut, more than 100 people marched the city centre to protest against Assad regime's brutality, calling the bombardment of Aleppo "war crimes."

More strikingly however, Syrian refugees stranded in the Greek Idomeni refugee in dire humanitarian conditions also protested in solidarity with Aleppo.