Hundreds of civilians were killed Sunday night as Syrian and Russian warplanes continued to bomb rebel-held areas, the day after Russia told the United Nations Security Council that the chances of bringing peace to Syria is now "an almost impossible task."
The eastern parts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo were hit with another night of bombing with dozens of airstrikes hitting areas held by rebels in the city. The airstrikes are part of a renewed effort by the Syrian government to cripple the opposition, with its fresh campaign beginning last Thursday effectively ending a fragile ceasefire which had been in place since September 9.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an independent monitoring group that relies on local accounts to document airstrikes and military operations within Syria and Iraq, said the death toll from the most recent wave of bombings is "at least 23," with victims still being pulled from the rubble. The group told Reuters that since last week 237 people, including 38 children, had died from from airstrikes on Aleppo, 162 of those were in rebel-held east Aleppo city.
However, civil defence workers put the death toll at 400 in the rebel-held parts of the city since last week. Bebars Mishal, a civil defense worker speaking to Reuters said the most recent bombardment continued until 6 a.m. local time on Monday.
"It's the same situation. Especially at night, the bombardment intensifies, it becomes more violent, using all kinds of weapons, phosphorous and napalm and cluster bombs," Mishal said. "Now, there's just the helicopter, and God only knows where it will bomb. God knows which building will collapse."
The latest wave of air strikes came hours after the UN Security Council met at the request of the US, France and Britain to address the escalation in fighting in Aleppo.
Speaking before the council, Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin responded to strong criticism from the US and UK, saying: "In Syria hundreds of armed groups are being armed, the territory of the country is being bombed indiscriminately, and bringing a peace is almost an impossible task now because of this."
This was in response to some stinging criticism of Russia's role in protecting the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. "What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism, it is barbarism," US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power told the council.
The UK ambassador Matthew Rycroft accused the countries of colluding to carry out war crimes. "The [Syrian] regime and Russia have plunged to new depths and unleashed a new hell on Aleppo. Russia is partnering with the Syrian regime to carry out war crimes."
Both Rycroft and Power walked out of the security Council meeting when Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari began to address the meeting.