Fresh strikes around Syria’s Aleppo despite ceasefire

Barrel bombs hit targets in Aleppo countryside, sources there say, despite US-Russia brokered truce.

Syrian government jets have dropped barrel bombs on targets in the countryside near Aleppo, sources told Al Jazeera, a day after a partial truce was extended to include the battered city.

The ceasefire came into effect on Wednesday at midnight Damascus time, and was supposed to include not only the city but also surrounding districts. 

Government air strikes, though, hit Khan Touman and Al-Rashideen district in the countryside, where Assad’s forces were battling rebels, which would constitute a violation of the truce. 

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from the Turkish-Syria border, said: “US officials said that we have an agreement with the Russians to extend the ceasefire to include Aleppo, but now we are getting those reports of attacks, but inside the city itself the situation is calm.”

The streets were busier in the centre of Aleppo, Khodr said, as many people ventured out for the first time in days.

The government accused rebel fighters of violating the agreement also in what it said was indiscriminate shelling of government-held parts of Aleppo city overnight.

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The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said at least one person was killed in rebel shelling in the Midan neighbourhood on the government side of the divided city.

Government media said the rockets hit the New Aleppo district.

Calls for the ceasefire to be extended to Aleppo mounted after a surge in air strikes and fighting killed almost 300 people – many of them children. 

Once Syria’s commercial hub, Aleppo is now divided between the government-held west and the rebel-controlled east, which has been devastated by years of shelling and air raids. 

Recent government advances risk cutting the rebel east of the city off entirely.

The surge in violence wrecked the first major ceasefire agreement of the five-year war, which was backed by Washington and Moscow, and had largely held since February.

UN special envoy, Staffan de Mistura, has estimated that more than 400,000 people have been killed in a war that has driven millions of people from the country. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies