Violence escalates in #Aleppo, UN calls for urgent solution

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon calls on the regime and rebels to recommit to a ‘cessation of hostilities’ agreement in Syria amid heavy air strikes and violence in #Aleppo

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

People walk amid the rubble of destroyed buildings following a regime airstrike on the opposition held neighbourhood of al-Kalasa in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on April 28, 2016.

Updated Aug 25, 2016

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on the warring parties in the conflict in Syria to put a cessation of hostilites agreement urgently "back on track," with regime rocket fire killing at least three more civilians overnight in Aleppo despite the ceasefire being formally extended.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Monday that Secretary General Ban was profoundly concerned about the intolerable suffering, death and destruction in and around Aleppo.

Reiterating Ban’s words, Dujarric stressed the importance of all regional and international actors concerned with the conflict, especially Russia, the United States and the International Syria Support Group - which is supporting the current UN-mediated intra-Syrian talks - to support the political transition process in Syria.

"The collapse of the cessation of hostilities will only bring more violence, death and destruction while further weakening efforts to find a negotiated solution to this brutal war," Dujarric said.

On Monday the Syrian regime announced a 48-hours unilateral ceasefire around Damascus and opposition strongholds following an intense diplomatic push by the US.

However, although the delivery of humanitarian aid was allowed in regime-besieged areas on Monday, intense bombardament and fighting which have killed hundreds in recent weeks in Aleppo have stalled peace talks aimed at ending the conflict.

One of the few remaining hospitals in Aleppo, which was supported by the international aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was hit by regime forces last week, further undermining the deal. The air strike killed at least 50 people in the hospital along with the last pediatrician in the city.

Regime air strikes also targeted a main road, which is the only route out from the opposition held east, on Sunday. The oppostion warned that if the route is blocked nearly 200,000 residents would be trapped in the area, without access to basic necessities.

The "cessation of hostilities" deal aimed at ending six years of conflict in Syria was brokered by the UN in February. Yet intense bombardaments on opposition held civilian areas have begun once again.

Oppostion groups have been expressing fears that the terms of the cessation of hostilities agreement would be twisted and taken as an excuse to target moderate factions, as the deal didn't include many opposition groups that weren't considered to be moderate by the UN Security Council.

On Monday, the US said it is considering to propose a detailed map including "safe zones" to protect civilians and moderate opposition members from persistent regime attacks in the country. Russia - which began supporting the Syrian regime’s air campaign in the country on September 2015 - did not immediately comment on the plan.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday in Geneva after he met with UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura that the conflict was "out of control" and stated that the US is pushing for a ceasefire.

"We're trying to press this as fast as possible but I don't want to make any promises that can't be kept," he said.

Kerry later spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov over the phone and discussed the need to observe the cessation of hostilities agreement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The UN special envoy is also scheduled to hold a meeting with Lavrov on Tuesday, one day after meeting with Kerry.

Mistura said that he wanted to focus on bringing the cessation of hostilities in Syria back on track at the meeting in Moscow.

Author: Bilge Nesibe Kotan

TRTWorld and agencies