Aleppo ‘faces starvation’ amid continued bombardment
Deadly offensive continues as residents of eastern Aleppo face harsh winter conditions and critically low food supplies.
At least 39 people, including five children, have been killed in the latest round of air strikes and shelling in and around the Syrian city of Aleppo, Al Jazeera has learnt.
Witnesses and activists told Al Jazeera the air strikes on Friday destroyed two women’s hospitals in Aleppo and Idlib province, as the renewed government offensive to capture Aleppo city from opposition fighters stretched into its tenth day.
Both Syria and Russia have denied involvement in the bombardments.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said fuel is critically low in the besieged city, as residents faced a harsh winter without heating and electricity, and escalating food prices.
Some residents said meat now costs $50 per kilo, compared to $9 four months ago.
Mohamed Shbeeb, a freelance journalist trapped inside the besieged city, said conditions in Aleppo were rapidly deteriorating.
“Since the early [Saturday] morning, Russian warplanes attacked the city. Many people were killed. In the last 10 days in this campaign, more than 500 people have been killed by Russian air strikes and ballistic missiles,” he told Al Jazeera.
“All the hospitals in the city are out of service. So the injured are a risk as there is only limited medical aid available. The situation is becoming worse every day. Food supplies have almost dried up. All stores are closed. Some people sell vegetables that they grow in their garden. Other food is no longer available.”
On Friday, Raed al-Saleh, the head of the Syria Civil Defence, or White Helmets, said the inhabitants of east Aleppo have fewer than 10 days to receive aid or face starvation and death from a lack of medical supplies.
The volunteer group, which works in opposition-held territory and has rescued thousands of people from buildings bombed in the civil war, is also running out of basic equipment from lorries to diesel and gas masks.
With freezing winter conditions setting in, about 275,000 people are trapped in eastern Aleppo, where the last UN food rations were distributed on November 13.
Anti-government fighters in east Aleppo have agreed to a plan for aid deliveries and medical evacuations, according to UN officials, but the global body is awaiting a “green light” from Russia and the Syrian government before it can begin operations.
Jan Egeland, the head of a UN-backed humanitarian task force for Syria, said on Thursday that his team had received written approval from the fighters and “verbal support” from Russia for the UN plan reached earlier this month.
The four-point plan involves the supply of medical and food aid, the evacuation of 200 wounded or disabled civilians, and medical staff to rotate in and out of besieged areas.