Airstrikes again pound rebel-held east Aleppo

Airstrikes hit several districts in rebel-held eastern Aleppo for the first time in weeks on Tuesday as warplanes rumbled overhead, according to the Syrian government and sources on the ground.

Syrian government officials confirmed to CBC News that heavy airstrikes had hit at least three neighbourhoods. 

‘It’s all airstrikes and parachute bombs.’ — Civil defence official Ibrahim Abu al-Laith

The strikes killed at least 10 people, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The plume from a large explosion was caught on camera by the CBC News crew in Aleppo.

Strikes hit the Haidariya, Hanano and Sakhour neighbourhoods, said civil defence official Ibrahim Abu al-Laith. The observatory said the strikes also hit the Sheikh Faris, Bab al-Nairab, Qadi Askar and al-Qaterji districts.

It added that some of the strikes were carried out by helicopters dropping barrel bombs.

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“Our houses are shaking from the pressure. Planes are soaring above us and the bombardment is around us,” said Modar Shekho, a resident of eastern Aleppo.

Aleppo has become the fiercest front in Syria’s 5½-year war, pitting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces supported by Russia, Iran and Shia militias against mostly Sunni rebels including some backed by Turkey, the U.S. and Gulf monarchies.

The city has been divided for years between a government-held western sector and rebel-held eastern districts.

The army and its allies managed to besiege eastern Aleppo this summer and launched a big offensive backed by a heavy bombardment in September, but in recent weeks Moscow has said it was observing a pause in airstrikes.

“It’s all airstrikes and parachute bombs. Today, the bombing is violent… There hasn’t been this kind of attack in more than 15 days,” said civil defence official Ibrahim Abu al-Laith in Aleppo.

The airstrikes resume as Russia announced a major air offensive in Syria that Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said is aimed at ammunition depots, training camps and armaments factories in the rebel-held province of Idlib and the central province of Homs. He did not immediately mention Aleppo.

Syrian activists also reported strikes in Idlib and Homs.

The Russian blitz began hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. president-elect Donald Trump discussed Syria over the phone and agreed on the need to combine efforts in the fight against extremism.

Four weeks ago, Russia said it would halt weeks of deadly airstrikes to allow rebels and supporters to leave eastern Aleppo. The rebels refused to take up the offer and the United Nations failed to negotiate the delivery of aid into the besieged area.

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Civil Defence workers and Syrian citizens inspect damaged buildings after airstrikes hit in Darat Izza town, in rural western Aleppo province, on Nov. 5. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets/Associated Press)

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