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More civilians flee Aleppo, as Kerry embarks on fresh ceasefire bid

Syrian airstrikes on rebel-held areas of Aleppo have killed ten more civilians, lifting the city's nine-day death toll to nearly 250. US Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to Geneva in a fresh ceasefire bid. Russia has rejected calls to rein its ally Syrian President Bashar al Assad and his forces, as more residents fled Syria's divided and battered northern city. The fight for Aleppo was part of Assad's campaign against "the terrorist threat," said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, in reply to a Washington appeal to keep Assad in check. The past week's resurgence of air strikes and shelling in Aleppo has severely tested an internationally mediated truce reached on February 27 and further peace talks between the regime and non-jihadist rebels. Elsewhere in Syria, truce efforts seemed to be working. The Red Cross says aid deliveries to two northern and two southern towns of Syria have proceeded. Claim and counter-claim The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said its monitors had observed 28 air strikes on rebel-held eastern neighborhoods on Saturday in Aleppo, where an estimated 250,000 people remain. Only one escape route Families tried to flee by using eastern Aleppo's only route along the dangerous Castello Road, as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) deplored attacks on four Aleppo medical facilities on Friday. ICRC Syria spokesperson Marianne Gasser said attacks on hospitals and clinics were "strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law." "For the sake of people in Aleppo, we call for all to stop this indiscriminate violence." 'Top priority,' says US Amid reports that Kerry would travel back to Geneva on Sunday, the US State Department said the top US diplomat was giving "top priority" to ending the violence in Aleppo. Kerry had had phone calls with the United Nation's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura and Riyah Hijab, a negotiator for Syrian opposition groups, said State Department spokesman John Kirby. The head of the main Syrian opposition coalition, Anas al-Abdeh, said the chances of a solution were fading unless the international community acted fast - before the formal start of UN-backed peace talks on May 10. Speaking after a coalition meeting in Istanbul, Abdeh claimed that Assad's regime "is not really interested in a political solution." Abdeh said it was up to Washington, which in recent months had engaged in intense diplomacy with Moscow - to salvage the Geneva peace process. "I hope the Americans are doing that, otherwise all the good efforts of the past four months would go in vain," he said. Aid convoys bring relief In Damascus, another ICRC spokesman said humanitarian convoys run jointly with the UN and Syrian Red Crescent had begun delivering food and medicines to two outlying rebel-held towns besieged by government forces - Madaya and Zabadani. At the same time, other convoys had entered the two government-held towns besieged by insurgents near Aleppo - Fuaa and Kafraya. Madaya, in mountains northwest of Damascus, is the town where dozens of residents died of starvation late last year.

Syrian airstrikes on rebel-held areas of Aleppo have killed ten more civilians, lifting the city’s nine-day death toll to nearly 250. US Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to Geneva in a fresh ceasefire bid. Russia has rejected calls to rein its ally Syrian President Bashar al Assad and his forces, as more residents fled Syria’s divided and ... Read More »

UN: Over 400 people in need of evacuation in besieged Syrian town of Madaya

The United Nations (UN) has asked the Syrian government to allow hundreds of people to be evacuated from Madaya. Convoys were sent to deliver aid to the town where people have been starving to death. The UN said Monday the situation in Madaya was desperate with hundreds of people in need of immediate evacuation. The same day aid trucks carrying food and medical supplies arrived in the blockaded Syrian town. UN ambassadors met at a closed-door meeting to discuss the situation. According to US Ambassador Samantha Power over 400 people "are on the brink of death and in need of immediate medical evacuation:" The UN has reportedly appealed to the regime of embattled Syrian President Bashar al Assad to allow for their evacuation. A desperate situation A convoy of aid trucks arrived in Madaya, Foua and Kfarya on Monday to deliver much-needed supplies like infant formula, blankets and medicine to the desperate people. Yet Power emphasized that more had to be done. Forty-four trucks entered Madaya carrying one month's worth of food for over 40,000 people. The town has been under siege by Assad's forces for half a year. "It's really heartbreaking to see the situation of the people," said Red Cross spokesman Pawel Krzysiek. He said a little girl approached him upon his arrival and asked, "Did you bring food?" The situation has been so desperate that the people have been forced to live off grass and water. There were even reports of hungry people killing and eating cats to stay alive. A symbol of inhumanity Madaya has become a flashpoint in the ongoing war in Syria. Rebels point to it as an example of the inhumanity of the Assad regime. At least ten people have already died of starvation there and images of emaciated residents - including children - have drawn international condemnation. According to the World Food Programme (WFP) at least 40,000 lives are at risk. The last time aid was delivered to Madaya was in October. According to the UN, as many as 4.5 million Syrians are living in besieged areas without access to food and basic necessities. Syria's UN ambassador has denied the accounts of mass starvation and accused the media - especially Arab television - of spreading lies.

The United Nations (UN) has asked the Syrian government to allow hundreds of people to be evacuated from Madaya. Convoys were sent to deliver aid to the town where people have been starving to death. The UN said Monday the situation in Madaya was desperate with hundreds of people in need of immediate evacuation. The same day aid trucks carrying ... Read More »

Syrian government to allow aid to enter besieged town of Madaya

The UN has said the Assad regime will allow it to deliver aid to starving people living in several towns, including Madaya. At least ten people have died due to lack of food there. The government of Bashar al-Assad granted the UN permission to deliver humanitarian aid to three blockaded towns, including one that has become a focal point for opposition groups seeking to draw attention to crimes committed by the president's regime. "The UN welcomes today's approval from the Government of Syria to access Madaya, Fuaa and Kafraya, and is preparing to deliver humanitarian assistance in the coming days," a UN statement said. The organization also took to Twitter to make the announcement. Of those three towns, Madaya has drawn special attention from the international community, with at least ten people there having already starved to death, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Hundreds of thousands at risk People in the town have resorted to living off water - flavored where possible - and minimal foodstuffs, including vegetation. They have reportedly been forced to burn furniture and other items to stay warm during the winter. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), at least 40,000 lives are at risk. The town has been besieged for around six months, despite a ceasefire agreement reached in September. The last time aid was delivered to Madaya was in October. The UN has said the Assad regime is using siege warfare in an instrumental manner in order to starve an entire population. The UN said in its statement that up to 4.5 million people in Syria are living in besieged areas in desperate need of aid. It reiterated its call for the government to allow unimpeded access to those hard-to-reach areas. Madaya, on the border with Lebanon, is close to Zabadani - recently the site of a UN-brokered mass-evacuation agreed between Assad and opposition groups.

The UN has said the Assad regime will allow it to deliver aid to starving people living in several towns, including Madaya. At least ten people have died due to lack of food there. The government of Bashar al-Assad granted the UN permission to deliver humanitarian aid to three blockaded towns, including one that has become a focal point for ... Read More »

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