UN: Rebel-held Parts of Aleppo Without Water After Syrian Bombing
By Edward Yeranian, Margaret Besheer September 24, 2016
The United Nations says that intense airstrikes against rebel-held areas of Aleppo have left 1.75 million people without running water, days into one of the heaviest sieges of the war.
The U.N.'s children's agency said in a statement that a key water pumping station supplying people in the city's east was damaged in airstrikes, and continuing violence is preventing crews from repairing it. In retaliation, the group said a second pumping station was switched off. UNICEF said it would expand emergency water trucking in response.
As the Russian-backed Syrian military stepped up its offensive against rebel-held areas of the city of Aleppo on Saturday, the country's foreign minister said Syrians would "not relent in their fight against terrorism."
"Our belief in victory is even greater now as the Syrian Arab Army is making great strides against terrorists, with the support of the true friends of the Syrian people – notable the Russian Federation, Iran, and the Lebanese national resistance (Hezbollah)," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem told the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
His remarks reinforce Western concerns that the government of President Bashar al-Assad is seeking a military end to the conflict, not a politically negotiated one.
Relentless airstrikes against the rebel-held section of the divided Syrian city of Aleppo continued Saturday, with many buildings destroyed down to the basements, where many people hide during bombardments. Residents said that the ordnance appears to be more powerful than the bombs and missiles used in the past, causing "earthquake-like tremors."
Amateur video from Aleppo showed multi-story buildings that had collapsed under intense Russian and Syrian government airstrikes Saturday on the east side of the city. Bomb craters were visible amid the rubble of some buildings. Another amateur video showed an older man clutching the lifeless body of his son, shouting, weeping and calling out his name.
Syrian government media claimed that Syrian and Russian warplanes were targeting ammunition depots inside rebel-held areas, causing buildings to collapse. VOA could not independently verify the claim.
At least 15 neighborhoods targeted
Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Arab media that dozens of people have been killed Saturday and that many others have been buried under collapsed buildings.
He said that at least 15 neighborhoods in east Aleppo were targeted by the Russian air force, with dozens of victims buried under the wreckage of destroyed buildings. He called the raids "unprecedented."
A civil defense worker said that his colleagues were attempting to recover survivors from under the rubble in many areas, despite the ongoing airstrikes and the destruction of facilities and rescue vehicles.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 25 people were killed Saturday. The previous day, at least 30 people, including several children were reported to have been killed by Russian and Syrian airstrikes.
Witnesses say the surge in airstrikes began late Wednesday after the Syrian government announced a renewed offensive to recapture the entire city. That follows the failure by the U.S. and Russia to salvage a cease-fire that had defused hostilities for nearly a week.
Aleppo, the country's largest city, has been divided among government troops, rebel militias, Islamic extremists and Kurdish fighters since 2012. Syrian opposition media is calling the latest airstrikes over the city the "worst fighting" of the five-year-old conflict.
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