Post by: Chief News Editor | Published: September 28, 2016 , 11:23 pm | Category: WORLD
Warplanes knock out Aleppo hospital as Russian-backed assault intensifies
Beirut: Foreign states have given Syrian rebels surface-to-surface Grad rockets of a type not previously supplied to them in response to a major Russian-backed offensive in Aleppo, a rebel commander said on Wednesday.
The Grad rockets with a range of 22 km and 40 km have been supplied in “excellent quantities” and will be used on battlefronts in Aleppo, Hama and the coastal region, rebel commander Colonel Fares Al Bayoush said.
While Grad missiles have previously been supplied to rebels, Bayoush said it was the first time this particular type had been delivered. Each salvo contains 40 rockets, he said, without giving further details. The rebels had previous stocks of the rocket captured from army stores, he added.
Bayoush added that there was as yet no sign of the rebels being supplied with anti-aircraft missiles they have demanded.
A video posted on YouTube on Monday showed Free Syrian Army rebels firing Grad missiles at government positions near Aleppo.
Bayoush confirmed the weapons being fired in the video were newly supplied.
Rebel groups fighting under the Free Syrian Army banner have received military aid from states opposed to President Bashar Al Assad via a US-backed coordination centre in Turkey.
The rebellion’s foreign backers have previously supplied Russian-made Grad rockets to the rebels: rockets with a 20 km ranges were delivered earlier this year in response to an earlier offensive in Aleppo, rebels told Reuters at the time.
Meanwhile, Russian or Syrian warplanes knocked a major Aleppo hospital out of service on Wednesday, hospital workers said, and ground forces intensified an assault on the city’s besieged rebel sector, in a battle that has become a potentially decisive turning point in the civil war.
Shelling damaged at least another hospital and a bakery, killing six residents queuing up for bread under a siege that has trapped 250,000 people with food running out.
The World Health Organization said it had reports that both hospitals were now out of service.
The week-old assault has already killed hundreds of people, with bunker-busting bombs bringing down buildings on residents huddled inside. Only about 30 doctors are believed to be left inside the besieged zone, coping with hundreds of wounded a day.
“The warplane flew over us and directly started dropping its missiles … at around 4am,” Mohammad Abu Rajab, a radiologist at the M10 hospital, the largest trauma hospital in the city’s rebel-held sector, said.
“Rubble fell in on the patients in the intensive care unit.” Medical workers at the M10 hospital said its oxygen and power generators were destroyed and patients were transferred to another hospital in the area. There were no initial reports of casualties in the hospital.
Photographs sent by a hospital worker at the facility showed damaged storage tanks, a rubble strewn area, and the collapsed roof of what he said was a power facility.
The government of President Bashar Al Assad, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shiite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, has launched a massive assault to crush the rebels’ last major urban stronghold.
Syria’s largest city before the war, Aleppo has been divided for years between government and rebel zones, and would be the biggest strategic prize of the war for Al Assad and his allies.
Taking full control of the city would restore near full government rule over the most important cities of western Syria, where nearly all of the population lived before the start of a conflict that has since made half of Syrians homeless, caused a refugee crisis and contributed to the rise of Daesh.
The offensive began with unprecedented bombing last week, followed by a ground campaign this week, burying a ceasefire that had been the culmination of months of diplomacy between Washington and Moscow.
Washington says Moscow and Damascus are guilty of war crimes for targetting civilians, hospitals, rescue workers and aid deliveries, to break the will of residents and force them to surrender. Syria and Russia say they target only militants.
The Syrian army said an Al Nusra Front position had been destroyed in Aleppo’s old quarter, and other militant-held areas targeted in “concentrated air strikes” near the city.
Another hospital, M2, was damaged by bombardment in the Al Maadi district, where at least six people were killed while queuing for bread at a nearby bakery, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring body and residents.
Food supplies are scarce in the besieged area, and those trapped inside often queue up before dawn for food.
NEWS COLLECTED FROM GULF NEWS.