BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):
Syrian activists say several civilians have been killed in renewed airstrikes on opposition areas in the contested city of Aleppo.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 23 people have been killed in presumed government or Russian airstrikes on various neighborhoods in rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Sunday.
Ibrahim Alhaj of the Syrian Civil Defense search and rescue operation says the group has documented the deaths of 43 people so far.
Hospitals in the city are reporting that they are overwhelmed with casualties.
Mohammad Zein Khandaqani, a member of the Medical Council, which oversees medical affairs in the opposition areas, says he expects many of the most badly wounded will die from insufficient treatment and facilities.
“I’ve never seen so many people dying in once place,” he said from a hospital in the city.
A top U.N. envoy is accusing Syria at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council of unleashing “unprecedented military violence” against civilians in Aleppo.
Staffan de Mistura said Syria’s declaration of a military offensive to retake rebel-held eastern Aleppo has led to one of the worst weeks of the 5 1/2-year war with dozens of airstrikes against residential areas and buildings causing scores of civilian deaths.
He said the offensive targeting civilians with sophisticated weapons including incendiary devices may amount to war crimes.
De Mistura said U.S.-Russian talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly’s ministerial meeting failed to reinvigorate the Sept. 9 cessation of hostilities, and the offensive has left two million people in Aleppo without water.
He urged an immediate cessation of hostilities, delivery of humanitarian aid, and evacuation of urgent medical cases.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry is taking a slap at Boris Johnson for his suggestion that Russia has committed war crimes in Syria.
Following the British Foreign Minister’s comments, Russian ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova quickly responded on Facebook Sunday, saying:
“The foreign minister of Great Britain Boris Johnson said in a broadcast of the BBC that Russia is guilty of protracting civil war in Syria and, possibly, of committing war crimes in the form of air attacks on convoys with humanitarian aid. All this is right except for two words: Instead of ‘Russia’ it needs to be ‘Great Britain’ and instead of ‘Syria,’ ‘Iraq.'”
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says Russia should be investigated for war crimes following an attack on a Syrian aid convoy that claimed 20 lives.
Johnson said Sunday that Russian air power may have deliberately targeted the civilian convoy on Sept. 19. Russia denies involvement and instead suggests Syrian rebels or a U.S. drone were responsible.
Johnson said the West had been “too impotent in its response” to aggression by Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Russian backers during Syria’s civil war, now in its sixth year.
He said Russia is “guilty of protracting this war, of making it far more hideous. And yes … we should be looking at whether or not that targeting is done in the knowledge that those are wholly innocent civilian targets. That is a war crime.”
France’s foreign minister says Russia and Iran will be guilty of war crimes if they don’t pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad to stop escalating violence.
Jean-Marc Ayrault said an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting Sunday is a “moment of truth” for the U.N.
He said Assad’s regime “has clearly made the choice of a military escalation. I am calling on Russia and Iran to pull themselves together and show responsibility, by putting a stop to this strategy. … If not, Russia and Iran will be accomplices in war crimes committed in Aleppo.”
The U.S, Britain, and France sought Sunday’s meeting, as pro-government forces continued their intense bombardment of Aleppo. They are widely believed to be accompanied by Russian air strikes.
A monitoring group says Syrian rebels have retaken an area in Aleppo that fell to government forces the day before, extending a punishing stalemate in the contested northern city.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which maintains a network of local contacts, says rebels seized Handarat, a largely uninhabited Palestinian refugee camp, early Sunday.
The area is near Castello Road, a vital supply route to the city’s besieged rebel-held areas. Government forces seized the Castello Road earlier this year, besieging rebel-held districts where some 250,000 people reside.
Yasser al-Yousef, a spokesman for the Nour el-Din al-Zinki rebel faction, says rebels seized Handarat late Saturday.
The Observatory says 213 civilians have been killed by airstrikes and shelling on rebel-held areas in and around Aleppo since a cease-fire expired Monday.