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Syria war: Casualties mount in air strikes on Aleppo

More than 700 government strikes carried out in rebel-held areas of key northern city in past 48 hours, activists say.

Casualties

Covered in his own blood, his hands mangled, Ahmed Jamili begged the doctors not to cut up his clothes.

The child, 9, was just one of the victims as the Syrian government pounded rebel strongholds with hundreds of air strikes.

"My dad only bought them [the clothes] yesterday," Ahmed sobbed. "Please don't cut my clothes."

He had been playing outside in the rebel-held district of Al-Sakhour in Aleppo when government war planes dropped their bombs.

His two brothers were killed. A building close by collapsed entirely.

At first people were not sure whether anyone was alive, until they heard a child crying.

Rescuers squeezed into a narrow opening in the rubble scrambling to clear the way, before they pulled out a young girl.

Several minutes passed before a second little girl was brought out, somehow unhurt.

Civil Defence volunteers said that in 48 hours, Syrian government forces launched more than 700 air strikes on rebel-held areas of Aleppo city, and across the province.

It is part of a concerted government assault on some of the last major rebel strongholds: Aleppo, Homs and Daraya.

There has been a high civilian toll, with many children and babies among the dead and injured.

Aid groups said suffering in Daraya is compounded by the refusal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces to let aid convoys into the city.

The United Nations said it may not be able to go ahead with planned aid drops, saying it would be too dangerous without the Syrian government's cooperation.

Top negotiator resigns

In a separate development, the top negotiator of the main opposition bloc, Mohammad Alloush, has resigned over the failure of peace talks.

Alloush, who is also the representative of the powerful Jaish al-Islam rebel faction in the Saudi-based High Negotiations Committee, said that the peace talks failed to secure the release of thousands of prisoners languishing in regime custody.

"The peace talks failed to stop the bloodshed of our people, failed to secure the release of thousands of detainees or to push Syria towards a political transition without [Bashar] al-Assad and his criminal gang," he said.

On the ground, meanwhile, thousands of civilians fled a fresh offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in the north, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday.

The surprise offensive against the towns of Marea and Azaz threatens to overrun the last swath of territory in the east of Aleppo province, held by non-ISIL rebels.

Further east, US-led coalition warplanes targeted ISIL positions north of the ISIL-held Raqqa, killing 45 fighters, the Observatory said.


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