Middle East

Syria conflict: Strikes on rebel-held Aleppo 'kill 25'

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Media captionBasel Ibrahem's home in Aleppo was destroyed when a parachute bomb struck the area

At least 25 people have died in a third consecutive day of Syrian government air strikes and shelling on rebel-held parts of Aleppo, activists say.

Eight besieged eastern districts were reportedly bombarded, as government forces stepped up an offensive.

A three-week moratorium on air strikes declared by the government and its ally Russia came to an end on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, another 20 people were killed in car-bomb attack in the rebel-held town of Azaz, north of Aleppo.

Both rebel fighters and civilians were among the dead, a senior official in the rebel Nour al-Din al-Zinki Movement told AFP news agency.

Yasser al-Yousef said the attack had targeted a security office belonging to his faction and that it "bore the hallmarks" of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS), to which it is fiercely opposed.

Aleppo, once Syria's commercial and industrial hub, has been divided in roughly two since 2012, with the government controlling the west and rebels the east.

On 22 September, two weeks after encircling the east and reimposing a siege on its 275,000 residents, the army launched an all-out assault to take full control of the city with the help of Iranian-backed militias and the Russian air force.

By the end of October, air strikes and shelling had killed more than 700 civilians in the east, while rocket-fire had left scores dead in the west, according to the UN.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said that a further 65 people had been killed since the government's aerial bombardment resumed on Tuesday, ending weeks of relative calm.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The rebel-held Shaar district was targeted repeatedly on Wednesday
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The UN says 275,000 people are living under siege in eastern Aleppo

On Thursday, the areas of Fardous, Bustan al-Basha, Saliheen, Maadi, Ansari, Sheikh Faris, Mowasalat and Masakin Hanano were targeted, the Local Co-ordination Committees activist network said.

Rebels reportedly responded to the strikes by shelling western districts.

A children's hospital and a hospital specialising in surgery in eastern Shaar district came under attack on Wednesday, medics and activists said. Staff at the children's hospital had to move children, including premature babies, from cots and incubators to the basement of the building.

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Media captionHow the conflict in Aleppo has changed the fabric of the city

Also on Thursday, video footage taken on the ground by a charity worker outside Aleppo appeared to show a Russian cruise missile flying over the city.

Russia has announced that it has been launching cruise missiles as part of a major operation against IS and the rival jihadist group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in the north-western province of Idlib and central province of Homs. But it has denied targeting Aleppo province.

The Russian military says one air strike in Idlib on Tuesday killed at least 30 members of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which was known as al-Nusra Front until it formally broke off ties with al-Qaeda in July.