Roy Gutman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former McClatchy Middle East bureau chief who is currently a freelance writer based in Istanbul.
Starting July 28, he has begun relaying reports from sources inside besieged Aleppo:
Inside Besieged Aleppo. Friday, July 29, Day 19
Humanitarian corridors announced by the government never opened, and instead, Syrian/Russian warplanes resumed targeting neighborhoods inside the rebel-held parts of the city. Rebels attacked regime forces trying to take more territory around the Kastello road. Among the neighborhoods bombed Friday: Al Hullok (many civilians injured), Bustan Al Basha (6 people killed; many injured), Al Sukkari (one person killed, few injured), Karm Al Byk, and Mukhayam Handarat.
In the countryside, 27 people were reported killed, 50 injured, in what was reported to be a Russian bombing of Al Atareb area west of Aleppo — the same town where Russian or regime aircraft destroyed a hospital last Sunday.
Russian or Syrian jets have carried out multiple air strikes in the north of the Idlib province today, hitting a maternity hospital and center used by Syrian Civil Defense rescuers in Kafar Takharim.
Britain’s ITV News reported:
Dr Abdul Kharim, a Syrian doctor speaking to ITV News, said equipment within the hospital and the building structure had been damaged during the raid.
“There were seven airstrikes targeting the town, one of these strikes targeted the entrance of the hospital”, he said. “Two people were killed and a lot of staff and patients were injured”.
He added: “Until now we don’t have the exact figures about the number of injured and affected staff”.
The hospital, which works with approximately 1,300 women and children a month, is the only maternity facility for about 70 miles.
The BBC reports that “Syria Relief, the aid agency that manages the hospital, said that those killed were relatives of patients.”
Air strikes were also reported on Salqin, a town around five kilometers to the west.
According to the Syrian Local Coordination Committees (LCC), at least four civilians were killed.
Roy Gutman is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and former McClatchy Middle East bureau chief who is currently a freelance writer based in Istanbul
Starting yesterday, he has begun relaying reports from sources inside besieged Aleppo:
Update from besieged Aleppo. Day 18.
SDF (the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces) based in the Kurdish neighborhood Al Shiekh Maksoud seized the Al Sakan Al Shababi neighborhood in the city of Aleppo which has been under FSA (Free Syrian Army) control since 2012. SDF seized the neighborhood at a time when rebels were busy halting a regime attack on the Allyramoun frontline in the north of the city. Meanwhile, regime forces captured the neighborhood of Bani Zaid north of the city. Rebel sources said they withdrew from Bani Zaid, fearing they might be encircled by the Kurds from one side, and the regime from the other.
The intensity of the regime’s bombing of the city was less than any other day, according to the opposition news agencies. Only one person was reported killed in the artillery that targeted neighborhoods in the eastern besieged part of the city.
Thursday was a day of rumors and of statements from all sides in the conflict. The Syrian regime promised amnesty to those who hand over their weapons. Regime helicopters dropped pamphlets over eastern Aleppo calling on civilians to leave and showing a map with three humanitarian corridors out of the city. Rebel leaders countered that it was propaganda, for all the crossings remained closed.
Reports from Aleppo indicate that, despite claims from the Russian and Syrian governments that a humanitarian operation has been launched in Aleppo, the air forces of both are still conducting attacks.
The Syrian Local Coordination Committees (LCC), SMART News Agency and Halab Today Later in the day, 5 civilians were killed when regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs on the Bustan al-Pasha neighborhood.
This area targeted lies right next to a location designated as a “humanitarian corridor” by the Russian Ministry of Defense on a map given to Komsomolskaya Pravda yesterday. The area bombed is highlighted in yellow:
There are conflicting reports regarding the situation at the Bustan al-Qasr crossing, which is in the center of the above map.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, rebel fighters have stopped civilians from passing through this area. In contrast, Syria’s Shahba Press Agency reports that is the regime who are keeping the crossing closed.
Meanwhile Russian state media are portraying a far rosier picture, complete with flags and portraits of Bashar al-Assad:
Further to the east of the city, the LCC reports that regime jets struck the Sakhour neighborhood with thermobaric weapons this morning, killing one civilian.
The same, incredibly destructive weapons were reportedly used by Russian jets against the towns of al-Atarib and Darat Izza, to the west of Aleppo.
Within the last hour, the LCC reports Russian air strikes on Sheikh Saeed, in the south of Aleppo city, and Jandol, in the north.
AFP reports that the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has called on Russia to allow the UN to take control of the corridors:
“Our suggestion is to Russia to actually leave the corridors being established at their initiative to us,” he said.
“How can you expect people to want to walk through a corridor, thousands of them, while there is shelling, bombing, fighting.”
The agency quoted Ahmad Ramadan of the opposition Syrian National Coalition:
“Aleppo residents are calling the corridors that Russia is talking about ‘death corridors’,” he said.
“What is happening now is not battles, but the complete and systematic destruction of the city and its residents, whether they are civilians or fighters.”
— Pierre Vaux