Despite carnage, Syria`s Aleppo not in fighting `freeze`

Regime aircraft on Friday pounded rebel areas of Syria`s second city Aleppo, which was left out of a deal to "freeze" fighting despite international outrage over renewed violence.

Aleppo: Regime aircraft on Friday pounded rebel areas of Syria`s second city Aleppo, which was left out of a deal to "freeze" fighting despite international outrage over renewed violence.

Shelling and air raids in Aleppo over the past week have killed more than 230 civilians and pushed a landmark February 27 ceasefire to the verge of collapse.

On Friday, crude barrel bombs smashed into residential neighbourhoods as rescue workers scrambled to cope with the casualties.

Near the eastern rebel-held Fardos district, the civil defence, known as the White Helmets, pulled bloodied bodies caked in dust from a building that had been hit.

An AFP correspondent saw a distraught man cradling his wounded daughter, who appeared to be about 10, in an ambulance.

"My daughter! Oh God, my daughter, please someone get in and drive!" he screamed.

After a rescue worker jumped into the driver`s seat, the young girl whimpered: "I`m going to die... I`m going to die."

Outside one building, a man clutching his face and screaming paced back and forth as rescue workers pulled bodies from an apartment complex.

Some onlookers helped rescue workers remove rubble as others stared at the sky waiting for the next strike.

Bombardment killed 17 people in rebel-held districts and 13 people in the government-controlled western neighbourhoods, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"The earth is shaking beneath our feet," one resident of the densely populated Bustan al-Qasr area told AFP.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called on warring parties to recommit themselves to the "indispensable" truce.

"People of Syria are once more living in fear of their lives, after the glimpse of the benefits peace could bring," she said in a statement.Despite the carnage, Aleppo has been excluded from a fresh "freeze" in fighting brokered by the United States and Russia.

Syria`s armed forces said that it would begin at 1:00 am Saturday (2200 GMT Friday) and last for 24 hours in Damascus and the nearby rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta, and 72 hours in the coastal Latakia province.

US special envoy for Syria Michael Ratney said the agreement was a "general recommitment" to the original truce, "not a new set of local ceasefires".

A Syrian security source said the deal was brokered by the US and Russia, but that Moscow had refused a request by Washington to include Aleppo.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss "keeping and reinforcing" the broader ceasefire, Russia`s foreign ministry said.

The High Negotiations Committee -- Syria`s main opposition body -- condemned the growing violence in Aleppo in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The HNC walked out of UN-backed peace talks in Geneva earlier this month in frustration at the increasing bloodshed.

"It`s not an appropriate time to talk about a political process in the wake of the horrific massacres and the systematic violations of the truce, which has no real presence on the ground," tweeted HNC head Riad Hijab.

On Friday, an air raid hit a local clinic in Aleppo`s rebel-held Al-Maja neighbourhood, wounding several people including a nurse, the White Helmets said.

Medical equipment lay scattered across the badly damaged clinic`s floor, covered in debris and dust, an AFP correspondent said.

"We serve civilians in this establishment, there were no fighters here," said Hassan al-Ahmad, who heads the clinic. It was the second time this week that an air strike hit one of the few medical facilities still operating in rebel areas.

Late Wednesday, air strikes hit the Al-Quds hospital and a nearby block of flats in the Sukari district, killing 30 people.

Dr Mohammad Wassim Maaz, known as the most qualified paediatrician in eastern Aleppo, was among the dead.

"He was friendly, kind and he used to joke a lot with the whole staff. He was the loveliest doctor in our hospital," Dr Hatem, a colleague, wrote in a letter published by The Syria Campaign advocacy group.

Al-Quds was supported by both Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra`ad Al Hussein on Friday slammed world powers backing opposing sides in Syria, saying the renewed violence showed a "monstrous disregard for civilian lives".

An online campaign to halt the carnage picked up speed, with Twitter users posting pictures of destroyed buildings in flames with the hashtag #AleppoIsBurning.

In a western government-held neighbourhood, Nour Shmeilan, an Orthodox Christian, said she was too afraid to attend Good Friday church services.

"We`ve packed all our things in a single suitcase and are ready to flee at any moment," she told AFP.

Syria`s army is poised to launch an offensive aimed at retaking the city and surrounding province.

Once Syria`s economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been ravaged by fighting since 2012 when rebels seized the city`s east, confining government forces to the west.

Since the conflict in Syria erupted in 2011, more than 270,000 people have been killed and millions more been forced from their homes.


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