The Syrian military says at least 84 people have been killed and another 280 people sustained injuries in three days of intensive and relentless assaults by militants on the government-held parts of the embattled city of Aleppo.
Syria’s army and the Armed Forces High Command said in a joint statement on Monday that terrorist groups, including Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, have killed dozens of women and children in their bombardment of schools and residential areas in western Aleppo since Friday.
The statement, which was carried by Syria’s official news agency, SANA, said that militants used chemical weapons and rocket fire in the attacks on civilians. It accused the militants of misusing a previous lull in the fighting, which was holding until earlier this month for humanitarian purposes, saying they used that period to obtain reinforcements and prepare such relentless attacks on civilians.
Syria has been battling an array of militant groups in Aleppo as it struggles to regain control over the eastern parts of the city. Western governments intensified their rhetoric against Syria’s campaign in Aleppo when it began late in September, saying the government and its allies, including Russia which carries out targeted airstrikes against militants, have committed war crimes in the attacks on eastern Aleppo.
This comes as a recent statement by the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said he was “appalled and shocked” hearing that militants in Aleppo were targeting civilians. De Mistura said “relentless and indiscriminate” rocket attacks against western Aleppo could amount to war crimes.
The intensified attacks come three days after militants announced the beginning of an offensive to break the Syrian military’s siege on eastern Aleppo. Syrian media said Sunday that militants had fired bombs containing the poisonous gas of chlorine at Hamdaniya district in western Aleppo.
The Monday statement by the army said around 50 people had been transferred to the hospitals in the city for gas inhalation treatments. It said the militants used a total number of 20 poison gas canisters and 50 Grad rockets and ignited 48 fires in their three-day-long offensive on civilians in Aleppo.
Aleppo, once Syria’s second largest city before the start of war in the country, has been a major frontline in the fight against different Takfiri militant groups. The city has been divided into two parts. Militants have occupied the city’s eastern parts for several years.