Syrian government air raids have struck five medical clinics in the northern province of Aleppo, where violence has intensified in recent weeks, opposition activists have said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross tweeted on Sunday after reports of air raids on the provincial capital of Aleppo and the nearby town of Atareb:
Rival sides in Syria’s five-year conflict have targeted hospitals and clinics in the past, mostly in the country’s north.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four clinics in the city of Aleppo and a fifth in the nearby town of Atareb were now out of service.
Baraa al-Halaby, an Aleppo-based activist, confirmed that five clinics had been hit, adding that an infant had been killed in a clinic in the Shaar neighbourhood in the early hours of Sunday. He added that a blood bank in Aleppo had been struck as well.
Syrian government forces and their allies cut the main road into rebel-held parts of the country, known as the Castello road, last week, laying siege to opposition-held parts of Aleppo. The city has been contested since July 2012.
Residents have been reporting shortages of food in rebel-held parts of the city because of the siege. On Sunday morning, scores of men, women and children queued in front of one of Aleppo’s bakeries to buy bread amid a shortage of fruits and vegetables, Halaby said. He added that some bakeries had closed because of a lack of flour or diesel.
This month the UN said nearly 300,000 people in rebel-held parts of Aleppo relied on the Castello road for travel, food and medicine.
According to the UN, nearly half a million people in besieged areas in Syria and an estimated 4.5 million Syrians are in a separate category called “hard to reach”.
Pawel Krzysiek, an ICRC official in Damascus, said a 24-truck convoy had entered the besieged rebel-held Damascus suburb of Moadamiyah al-sham to deliver food for 40,000 people and essential health materials for local facilities, in addition to non-food items and nutritional products.
Also in Damascus, the Sana state news agency said two shells fired by insurgents hit two neighbourhoods, causing material damage without casualties.
Sana quoted an unnamed foreign ministry official as saying that the government was ready for a new round of peace talks “without preconditions”.
The UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said on Friday that he hoped to be able to hold new talks on Syria’s conflict in Geneva in August amid mounting concerns over humanitarian access to Aleppo.
Russia and the US have recently concluded bilateral talks on Syria, and De Mistura said it was important first to see how steps agreed upon there played out.
The foreign ministry official welcomed the Russian-US talks, which discussed ways of fighting the Islamic State group and al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, the Nusra Front.