BEIRUT: The Syrian government launched new airstrikes Saturday on insurgent-held neighborhoods in Aleppo while rebels shelled government-held parts of the northern city, as a truce in other parts of the country appeared to be holding on its first day.
Contested Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and former commercial center, has been the scene of intense shelling and air raids, killing nearly 250 civilians over the past nine days, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The surge in fighting has caused the collapse of a two-month cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia. It also has raised fears of an all-out government assault on Aleppo.
The International Committee of the Red Cross warned that the intensification of fighting threatens to cause a humanitarian disaster for millions of people. A statement issued late Friday said four medical facilities on both sides of the city were hit earlier that day, including a dialysis center and a cardiac hospital.
ICRC appealed to all parties in the conflict “for an immediate halt in the attacks.”
“There can be no justification for these appalling acts of violence deliberately targeting hospitals and clinics, which are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law,” said Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC in Syria. “People keep dying in these attacks. There is no safe place anymore in Aleppo.”
“For the sake of people in Aleppo, we call for all to stop this indiscriminate violence,” Gasser said.
Friday’s attacks on the medical centers came after government airstrikes damaged a main hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders late Wednesday, killing more than 50 people, according to the international aid group.
Syrian opposition activists said Saturday’s airstrikes on Aleppo killed four people and wounded many others, mostly in the neighborhood of Bab al-Nairab.
The Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees, another activist-run group, reported more than 20 separate air raids on rebel-held parts of the city, where an estimated 250,000 people remain.
State media said rebel shelling of government-held parts of Aleppo killed one man and wounded others.