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Air strikes kill 11 in Syria
November 12, 2016
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BEIRUT: At least 11 people including four children were killed in air strikes on rebel-held areas near the Syrian capital, a monitor said.

One strike on the besieged town of Douma killed eight people including three children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

A separate strike on nearby Sabqa killed two women and a young girl, it said.

The raids are part of a six-month offensive by government forces that has chipped away at rebel-held villages and farmland across Eastern Ghouta, according to the Observatory.

Douma, the largest town in the Eastern Ghouta area with more than 100,000 residents, is surrounded and regularly shelled by regime forces.

Syria’s five-year conflict has left more than 300,000 people dead. Russia bristled at extending the breaks in the fighting in Aleppo, saying it would play into the hands of the militants, but promised that such halts will continue, according to a statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday that the ministry had received a request from UN official Jan Egeland to extend the “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo.

A UN official says the last food rations inside besieged eastern Aleppo will run out by next week.

Speaking in Geneva, Egeland, the special adviser to the UN envoy for Syria, said the last time the over a quarter of million people inside east Aleppo received any humanitarian aid was at the beginning of July.

“The reports we have now from within east Aleppo is that the last food rations are being distributed as we speak. There will not be more to distribute next week. Some families have not had any distributions, families in need of relief, have not had any distributions for several weeks already,” Egeland said.

Konashenkov criticiaed the UN for failing to make use of the 10-hour pause to deliver aid, despite being given advance notice.

“The humanitarian pauses are undoubtedly needed,” Konashenkov said. “But we believe that simply extending their duration without offering real assistance to civilians, and allow the terrorists to restore their capabilities, would be unproductive and defy common sense.”

Russia has repeatedly introduced such dawn-to-dusk breaks to allow both fighters and civilians to leave Aleppo’s rebel-held eastern part. But militants have refused to leave, and during the last such halt on Friday they fired at one of humanitarian corridors, wounding two Russian servicemen.

Moscow said that Russian and Syrian warplanes haven’t been conducting any airstrikes on the city of Aleppo since Oct. 18. The halt on strikes didn’t apply to the wider Aleppo province.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Thursday poured scorn on the US officials who questioned the usefulness of Russia’s “humanitarian pauses.”

“The degree of these people’s capriciousness is amazing,” Ryabkov said in comments carried by the Interfax news agency. “No matter what we do, it’s all bad. If we carry out strikes it’s bad; if we don’t it’s bad. If we open humanitarian corridors it’s also bad.”

Ryabkov said that breaks in fighting in Aleppo will continue to be observed to help civilians.

Agence France-Presse

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