White Helmets rescue group targeted in Syrian airstrikes, 3 medical centers destroyed

ALEPPO, Syria, Sept. 23 (UPI) — Syrian army jets launched new airstrikes on rebel-held areas of Aleppo, hours after Syria’s government announced plans to take back the war-torn city, rescue workers said.

Syrian and Russian aircraft bombed Aleppo neighborhoods, destroying at least three White Helmets medical centers and hampering efforts to help civilians caught in the fighting. At least five vehicles, including an ambulance, belonging to the White Helmet volunteer rescue group were destroyed. One rescue worker described the scene as “annihilation.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 12 people, including six children, were killed in 30 air raids, but the report has not been independently confirmed.

“We have four centers in eastern Aleppo. The aircraft targeted three centres. Two of them are now out of service,” Abdul Rahman al-Hassani of White Helmets told Al Jazeera. “Our centers were the direct target [of the strikes].”

The bombing campaign came after Syria’s military announced a new operation in parts of rebel-held Aleppo. Monday, the Russian and Syrian governments canceled a week-old ceasefire after alleged violations by both sides.

Aleppo was once considered Syria’s commercial and industrial capital. The western portion of the city is controlled by the governments and the eastern area is rebel controlled. An estimated 250,000 people are in dire need of humanitarian aid.

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