BEIRUT — A clinic in a rebel-held area of Aleppo, Syria, was the latest target of Syrian regime bombs Friday, just two days after an airstrike hit a hospital in another part of the city, killing at least 50 people and 14 patients and staff, according to volunteer search and rescue organization Syria Civil Defense.
In the past 10 days, at least 200 people have died after renewed fighting erupted in Aleppo. As forces loyal to the Syrian regime subject residents to a prolonged aerial bombardment, Syria's largest city is bracing for a siege that will have devastating humanitarian consequences, aid workers say.
Before war broke out five years ago, Aleppo was the country’s commercial capital, but since then the city has been in a state of near-constant violence as the many factions fighting in Syria compete to control the strategically located and symbolically significant territory. Despite the fighting, there are still some 250,000 people stuck inside the opposition-controlled areas of Aleppo and the only open main road is now under threat of regime airstrikes, making it nearly impossible to bring vital resources into the city.
“The current confluence of strategic intent, political opportunity, and tactical maneuvers indicate that the regime and its allies will act within the coming weeks to encircle and besiege Aleppo city,” Chris Kozak, a Syria analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, wrote in a report Thursday.
— Majd khalaf (@majdkhlafa19931) April 29, 2016
Russian state media reported Friday that the Syrian government has agreed to implement a “regime of silence” (likely a partial ceasefire) for 24 hours in the province of Damascus and 72 hours in the province of Latakia.
But in Aleppo, Russia and Syria are far from silent. The two have carried out dozens of airstrikes on opposition-held areas of the city in the past week, killing at least 120 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Opposition shelling on regime territory has killed at least 71 civilians during the same period, the monitoring organization said.
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) April 29, 2016
The destruction of Al Quds hospital Wednesday night, which is supported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was one of the few left in Syria with a functioning emergency room, intensive care unit and operating room. The staff included eight doctors and 28 nurses and was the "main referral center for pediatrics," MSF said in a tweet posted to its official account. Two doctors, including one of the last pediatricians in Syria, were killed in the strike.
Dr. Hatem, the director of the Children’s Hospital in Aleppo, released a statement Thursday night, calling the situation in Aleppo critical. "Aleppo may soon come under siege. We need the world to be watching.”