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31 Oct, 2016 16:18

84 killed by rebel shelling over past 3 days in Aleppo, mostly women & children – Syrian Army

84 killed by rebel shelling over past 3 days in Aleppo, mostly women & children – Syrian Army

The bombardment of government-held positions in Aleppo by militants from terrorist groups has resulted in the deaths of some 84 people, the majority of whom were women and children, the Syrian Army has said.

In a statement issued on Monday, the army and Armed Forces High Command also said rebels had targeted schools and civilians, fired 20 poison gas canisters and 50 Grad rockets, and ignited 48 fires. 

On Sunday, a poisonous substance, believed to be highly toxic chlorine gas, was fired at the residential district of al-Hamdaniya in government-held west Aleppo. An RT Arabic crew in the city reported 36 cases of suffocation. TV channel Al-Mayadeen reported that all the victims of the attack were civilians. Rebels have called the accusation a lie.

Moscow has strongly condemned the alleged poison gas attack and repeated its call for Western countries to separate ‘moderate’ rebels from terrorists.

“It’s our duty to remind those who say they have influence over the armed Syrian opposition of the necessity to fulfill their obligation to clearly separate so-called ‘moderates’ from the terrorists from ISIS [Islamic State/IS], Jabhat Fateh Al Sham (former Al-Nusra Front) and other militant groups,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Monday.

Amnesty International has condemned the “indiscriminate attacks” on civilian areas by the armed opposition.

The goal of breaking the siege on eastern Aleppo does not give armed opposition groups a license to flout the rules of international humanitarian law by bombarding civilian neighborhoods in government-held areas without distinction,” Samah Hadid, deputy director of Campaigns at Amnesty International's Beirut regional office, said on Monday.

On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on a number of attacks in Aleppo that targeted residential areas and humanitarian corridors and which claimed the lives of at least three children and 12 adults in the Al-Mashariq district.

The United Nations has also slammed opposition groups for firing rockets on civilians in Aleppo. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Saturday he is “appalled and shocked by the high number of rockets indiscriminately launched by armed opposition groups” that killed scores of civilians in the city amid the recent escalation.

Meanwhile, the Russian and Syrian Air Forces continue to observe a no-fly-zone over Aleppo, staying at least 10km from the city. This humanitarian pause was established on October 20 to secure the release of civilians via six specially-created escape routes, but according to the Russian Defense Ministry only 12 Syrians managed to flee east Aleppo over this period, while terrorists in Aleppo continue to intensively shell the western part of the city. 

According to military intelligence, militants used the ceasefire period to transfer reinforcements to the area of Khan Tuman in the south and Kafr Hamra in the north of Aleppo, amounting to about 8,000 fighters aiming to break the siege on the eastern part of the city which they now control.

Russia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations says over 16,000 people have fallen victim to opposition groups meant to be under US control in the past half a year. “From February to September, the opposition groups that are supposed to be under the US control committed 2,031 violations of the [cessation of hostilities], which claimed lives of 3,532 military personnel and 12,800 civilians,” reads the mission’s statement, published on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Russia has been assisting the Syrian Army in fighting Al-Nusra Front militants in eastern Aleppo, which has become the militants’ stronghold in Syria. However, the West has accused Moscow and Damascus of causing civilian casualties and suffering in the area, seemingly disregarding atrocities caused by jihadists.