Germany is pleading with Russia and the Syrian government to allow food, water and medical supplies into Aleppo as airstrikes intensified in the war-torn city.
A decision by Russia to suspend military operations for 3 hours each day is not enough, an aide for Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday.
“The killing and dying in Aleppo must come to an end,” said Steffen Seibert. “Announcing a 3-hour cease-fire for this city is meant to sound as goodwill but in fact is actually cynicism because everybody knows that this time isn’t in the least sufficient to really build up aid for these desperate people.” Seifert said it is essential for supplies to get into Aleppo.
“The Syrian president and its partner Russia mustn’t refuse these humanitarian minimum requirements,” Seibert said. “They bear the main responsibility for it. It’s foremost their decision whether the dying will continue in Aleppo or whether the inhabitants there will get help and hope after months of suffering.” Some 300,000 civilians remain in opposition-held areas of Syria’s former commercial capital.
A limited number of pickup trucks carrying vegetables have made their way into Aleppo since the rebels’ offensive on Saturday evening.
“We assure the people of Aleppo that whoever enters his home is safe, whoever enters a mosque or a church is safe and whoever lays down his weapon is safe, too,” said a statement released by numerous factions fighting in the city, including some allied with the Free Syrian Army, the U.S.-backed moderate opposition coalition.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Yekaterinburg, Russia, earlier Monday. Steinmeier has called for United Nations-controlled humanitarian corridors into the city and aid to be airdropped.
“The situation in Aleppo is unbearable for the people — the fighting must cease in order to provide the population with essential goods,” Steinmeier said in a speech to students at the Ural Federal University Yekaterinburg, also attended by Lavrov.
Lavrov told TASS that “Three-hour pauses a day are insufficient but to make them lengthy, it is necessary to deal with the issues of the fight against terrorists.”
The foreign minister said “there are very big risks” for airlifting humanitarian aid.
“It is not always possible — due to weather conditions or changing configuration on the ground — to deliver this cargo to those it is meant for rather than to terrorists, he said.
During the pause, he said said the “terrorists’ ranks have been replenished with 7,000 fighters, to say nothing about a large number of ammunition and weapons.”
Russian and government airstrikes have intensified since rebels’ campaign on July 31 from Idlib to break a government siege of Aleppo’s opposition districts.
At least 90 people were killed Friday and another 83 civilian deaths by Saturday night, with most of them occurring in Aleppo province, according to the Local Coordination Committees, a grassroots network of activists.
Syrian Observatory For Human Rights released figures Sunday that at least 327 civilians, including 76 children and 41 women, were killed in Aleppo over the past 15 days. More than 100 were reportedly killed in bombing by government warplane and 126 were killed in attacks by opposition fighters on government-held areas in Aleppo.
By Allen Cone