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New Air Raids Launched in Aleppo       04/29 06:27

   BEIRUT (AP) -- After a brief morning lull, Syrian government warplanes 
launched fresh airstrikes Friday targeting rebel-held parts of Aleppo, raising 
fears of more casualties after days of carnage that propelled the contested 
northern city once again as a main battlefield in Syria's devastating civil war.

   The airstrikes shattered the lull that had engulfed Aleppo since dawn hours 
and prompted religious leaders to suspend Friday prayer sermons in the city 
mosques, according to activists from the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for 
Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees.

   The Observatory reported one person was killed in the strikes while the LCC 
said three people died and several were wounded.

   The carnage in Aleppo --- a city contested since the summer of 2012 when 
opposition fighters stormed it and took over several neighborhoods --- was 
particularly bad on Wednesday and Thursday, when airstrikes and artillery 
killed more than 60 people, including dozens at a hospital in a rebel-held 
neighborhood.

   Aid agencies warned that Aleppo is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster 
with the collapse of a two-month cease-fire and stalled peace talks in 
Switzerland.

   In Geneva, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the latest 
reports of civilian deaths in Syria revealed a "monstrous disregard for 
civilian lives by all parties to the conflict."

   In a statement released Friday, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein urged all sides to 
step back from a return to an all-out war.

   The U.N. official said "the violence is soaring back to the levels we saw 
prior to the cessation of hostilities" in late February. He added that 
targeting medical facilities and markets could "amount to war crimes."

   According to the Observatory, airstrikes and shelling in Aleppo killed 202 
civilians in the past week --- 123 in rebel-held parts of the city and 71 and 
government-held areas. It said the dead included 31 children on both sides.

   The Religious Council of Aleppo, a body that runs religious affairs in 
rebel-held parts of Aleppo province, suspended Friday prayers at the city's 
mosques, saying there were fears of more airstrikes by Russian and government 
warplanes.

   "The religious council calls upon, for the first time, all those in charge 
of mosques to suspend the Friday prayers," said the council in a statement 
posted online. "The heart of the believers is aching ... but preserving lives 
is an important religious duty."


(KA)

 
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