Shells and bombs rained down on rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Monday less than two hours after Syria’s army declared an end to a week-long cease-fire agreed between Russia and the US.
Damascus and its ally Moscow blamed rebels for the failure of the truce, but Washington said the terms had not been met for a key aspect of the deal US-Russia cooperation against jihadists.
The US, Russia and other key players are to meet Tuesday in New York for talks on the process to end Syria’s devastating five-year conflict, which has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced millions.
Stakes had been high when the cease-fire began on September 12, with US Secretary of State John Kerry warning at the time that it could be the “last chance” to save the country.
But it unravelled about an hour before it had been due to expire on Monday night. An AFP correspondent in Aleppo reported that the northern city was being pummelled.
Sirens wailed as ambulances zipped through the eastern rebel-held half of the divided city, the correspondent said, describing the bombardment as “non-stop”.
The Syrian armed forces announced the end to the truce, blaming rebels it said had violated the cease-fire more than 300 times and failed to “commit to a single element” of the US-Russia deal.
Under the agreement, fighting was to halt across Syria and humanitarian aid would reach desperate civilians particularly in devastated eastern Aleppo.
The first few days had been calm, but violence escalated sharply, culminating in a deadly US-led air raid at the weekend on a Syrian army position and fresh strikes on Aleppo. -AFP