After Kerry calls for grounding of military aircraft, Russia and Syrian government hit Aleppo with heaviest attack in months

The New York Times reports: Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday called for an immediate grounding of all military aircraft in what he described as “key areas” of Syria — including where aid is delivered — as a last-ditch effort to save an agreement with Russia to reduce violence and ultimately halt a war that shows no sign of slowing.

Speaking in an unusually pointed and partly unscripted session at a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Syria crisis, Mr. Kerry angrily accused Russia of living “in a parallel universe” and allowing President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to extend “the greatest humanitarian catastrophe since World War II.” [Continue reading…]

Reuters reports: Warplanes mounted the heaviest air strikes in months against rebel-held districts of the city of Aleppo overnight, as Russia and the Syrian government spurned a U.S. plea to halt flights, burying any hope for the revival of a doomed ceasefire.

Rebel officials and rescue workers said incendiary bombs were among the weapons that rained from the sky on the city. Hamza al-Khatib, the director of a hospital in the rebel-held east, told Reuters the death toll was 45.

“It’s as if the planes are trying to compensate for all the days they didn’t drop bombs” during the ceasefire, Ammar al-Selmo, the head of the civil defence rescue service in opposition-held eastern Aleppo told Reuters.

“It was like there was coordination between the planes and the artillery shelling, because the shells were hitting the same locations that the planes hit,” he said.

The assault, by aircraft from the Syrian government, its Russian allies or both, made clear that Moscow and Damascus had rejected a plea by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to halt flights so that aid could be delivered and a ceasefire salvaged. [Continue reading…]

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