Russian air strikes destroy mosques in Aleppo, Idlib

Heavy Russian air bombardment leads to destruction of mosques, schools also injures scores of Syrian civilians in Aleppo, Idlib

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

A girl carrying a baby inspects damage at a site hit by what activists said were air strikes carried out by the Russian Air Force in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria in this January 10, 2016 file photo.

Amateur videos posted on a social media website on Wednesday show a mosque and a school being hit by an Russian air strike in the village of Hayyan, in northern Aleppo.

In the video, which appears to be shot from a cemetery, a large plume of smoke is seen rising from a compound that was said to house a mosque and a school, preceded by the sound of a loud explosion.

The voice of an unidentified person was then heard saying from among the tombstones: "Russian strikes on Hayyan village. God is the greatest."

Another video posted online on Wednesday showed an unidentified man standing among a large pile of rubble where the mosque and school purportedly stood.

"This is a mosque, God's home. They've hit it and hit schools and infrastructure. God is the greatest. These mosques are for civilians. God is the greatest. God is the greatest. By God we are winning against you. By God we are winning against you, because you are killing the people who say my God is God. We are winning against you, you defiles, you Russians," the man said, while holding scraps of paper.

At least 500 people have been killed from both sides during the fighting in Aleppo province since the start of a Syrian regime and allied forces offensive began in early February, a war monitor said on Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, said this figure included at least 100 civilians. 

Air strikes continued on Tal Rafaat, Anadan and other towns in the Aleppo countryside, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in the war, and activists said, adding that they were almost certainly from Russian planes.

More amateur videos published online on Wednesday showed planes flying over the the city of Tal Rifaat followed by scenes of destruction.

A clip published online on Tuesday purported to show scores of injured people, including children, in a hospital in northern Aleppo, as an overwhelmed woman wandered through its crowded rooms.

Another clip also published on a social media website on Tuesday showed damaged buildings in what was said to be a refugee camp in the village of Afes, in eastern Idlib. The refugee camp is funded by the Qatari Red Crescent and hosts around 40 families that fled from the suburbs of Aleppo and Hama.

The Syrian regime's push to retake Aleppo with the support of Russian air strikes amounts to one of the most important shifts of momentum in the five year civil war that has killed 250,000 people and driven out more than half of the country's population.

Since last week, fighting has already wrecked the first attempt at peace talks and led to opposition fighters speaking about losing their northern power base altogether.

The United Nations on Tuesday said that hundreds of thousands of civilians could be cut off from food if Syrian regime forces encircle rebel-held parts of Aleppo, warning of a massive new exodus of refugees fleeing a Russian-backed assault.

The United Nations is worried the government advance could cut off the last link for civilians in rebel-held parts of Aleppo with the main Turkish border crossing, which has long served as the lifeline for opposition-controlled territory.

TRTWorld, Reuters