Syria rescue workers killed in Aleppo air strikes

Air strikes and rocket attacks by Syrian government forces west of Aleppo have killed five rescue workers, a monitoring group said, as hopes of a lasting ceasefire began to crumble 

The raids hit a centre for the Syrian Civil Defence – rescue workers also known as the “White Helmets” – in the opposition-held town of Atarib, on the outskirts of Aleppo, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

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On Tuesday, separate strikes hit civilian neighbourhoods in Aleppo and wounded at least three people, including two children, the monitor said. 

“It is a messy situation,” Zouhir Al Shimale, a journalist, told Al Jazeera by telephone from Aleppo.

“From 8am, the aircraft were flying low and the sounds were very loud. They were flying over the [rebel-held area] in Aleppo. There is a feeling among most people that they should stay inside their houses right now.” 

Several shops and businesses were closed on both sides of the city on Monday and Tuesday, while schools were closed in the rebel-held part of the city, al-Shimale said.

“The schools were closed … so that they could not be targeted by air strikes.” 

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The strikes came one day after rebel shelling killed at least 19 civilians and injured 120 in attacks on government-held parts of the city, the Observatory and local activists said.   

On Monday, the Observatory said that at least 60 people were killed between Friday and Sunday in tit-for-tat attacks between government forces and opposition groups in Aleppo.

The Syrian civil war started as a largely unarmed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, but quickly developed into a full-on armed conflict. 

United Nations special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, estimated last week that more than 400,000 Syrians had been killed, though he said that number was not an official UN statistic. 

The opposition cited the dire humanitarian situation and ongoing Syrian army attacks when it walked out of negotiations in Geneva last week, saying it needed a “pause”. The future of Assad also proved a major sticking point.

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The already shaky ceasefire between the government and some rebels has given way to renewed violence across the country, as government forces carried out air strikes in the Damascus countryside, Homs and other areas.

US President Barack Obama said on Monday that he planned to send 250 more troops to Syria, a sharp increase in the number of Americans working with local Syrian forces.

Source: Reuters And Al Jazeera