Tuesday 24 April 2018

US ultimatum to Moscow over Aleppo slaughter

People look at the sky fearing an airstrike in a rebel-held part of Aleppo. Pictures: Reuters
People look at the sky fearing an airstrike in a rebel-held part of Aleppo. Pictures: Reuters

Josie Ensor Beirut

America last night threatened to cut off all contact with Russia regarding Syria if Moscow did not immediately stop its devastating bombing campaign on Aleppo, which the UN chief described as "worse than a slaughterhouse".

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, told Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov that he had "grave concerns" over the deteriorating situation in the war-torn country.

The two had brokered the ceasefire which held for a week before descending into some of the worst violence of the war.

Both accused the other for its failure in fierce exchanges at the UN Security Council over the weekend, but each then said that the dialogue could continue.

In recent days, however, Syrian government forces have launched a major offensive to seize the rebel-held eastern half of Aleppo, where a quarter of a million civilians are trapped.

Russia is accused by the US of using both incendiary and so-called bunker-buster bombs on residential areas in the past few days.

Mr Kerry seemed to have run out of patience yesterday, offering Russia a final ultimatum.

He told Mr Lavrov he was preparing to suspend diplomatic engagement on Syria, "unless Russia takes immediate steps to end the assault on Aleppo" and restore a ceasefire.

It came after two of besieged Aleppo's largest hospitals were put out of service by an attack. M2 and M10 hospitals, given codenames to conceal their location, were hit by air strikes and artillery fire within minutes of each other at 4am.

"Everyone is terrified and scared. We are afraid that we will be today's victims," a nurse messaged from the a bunker at M2, where she said she was hiding with 90 patients.

More than 350 people have been killed since last Friday.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, yesterday said: "Let us be clear. Those using ever more destructive weapons know exactly what they are doing. They know they are committing war crimes.

"People with limbs blown off. Children in terrible pain with no relief.

"Imagine a slaughterhouse. This is worse." (© The Daily Telegraph)


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