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2 Aug, 2016 21:55

Civilians killed as terrorists shell Aleppo, use toxic gas – Syrian officials

At least seven civilians died and 25 more were injured as terrorists fired shells, some containing toxic gas, at Aleppo, local health officials said as cited by Syria’s official SANA news agency. The shelling occurred amid an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the city.

A terrorist attack on the Old City of Aleppo on Tuesday with “shells containing toxic gas” led to the death of five and suffocation of eight more civilians, the outlet quoted the city’s health director, Mohamad Hazouri, as saying.

A local police source told SANA that terrorist groups fired rocket shells on the al-Hamadaniyeh neighborhood, injuring six. They also targeted the Salah-Eddin neighborhood, killing two and injuring 11 more.

The Russian Reconciliation Centre in Syria said on Tuesday evening in a statement that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front terrorists were continuing to shell residential areas in Aleppo and Damascus.

“During the day in the province of Aleppo, terrorists fired mortars at the town of Ansar and two heights in the surrounding area, [and the] neighborhoods [of] Hai al-Ansari, Leramon, al- Khalidia and a shopping center "Castello" in the city of Aleppo were also targeted,” the statement reads.

The violence comes amid a dire humanitarian crisis in Aleppo which “is on the verge of running out of food and other essential supplies,” a recent statement by Amnesty International said.

Last week the Russian defense minister announced that “safe passages” would be created to let civilians flee the battle zone. Opposition fighters willing to “lay down arms” were also promised amnesty by Syrian government forces.

On Tuesday the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria dispatched a convoy containing 18 tons of aid to Aleppo from the Russian Khmeimim air base.

"Servicemen of the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation sent food and essentials in a humanitarian convoy to temporary storage warehouses in Aleppo," the statement said. The goods included personal hygiene equipment and medicine to be utilized by the ill or wounded.

On Monday a Russian Mi-8 transport helicopter was downed while coming back from a humanitarian aid mission to Aleppo. The incident happened as the chopper was flying over the neighboring Idlib province. Three crew members and two officers onboard died.

General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the main operations department of the Russian General Staff said that terrorists from Al-Nusra Front but also forces seen as “moderate opposition” by Washington operate in the area.

Earlier on Tuesday, media reports suggested that toxic gas had been dispersed in the area where a Russian helicopter was shot down in Syria. Kremlin has said that it has no information on the issue adding that it’s not always clear what such claims are based on. The UN also said that it can’t confirm these reports.