Fighting grinds on around Aleppo, Syria


Fighting continued north of Aleppo where Syrian government forces are battling rebels, after a local ceasefire expired in the city itself last week, amateur videos uploaded to a social media website purport to show.

Two segments of video, attributed by the uploaders to two Syrian Sunni rebel groups, Jaysh al Tahrir and Nour al Din al Zenki, purport to show a missile being fired at a bunker on Tuesday (May 17) in Handarat and rebels firing at government forces in the same area.

The target of the missile strike is not clear.

Russia and the United States say they are trying to strengthen a “cessation of hostilities” agreement between Syrian government forces, which has been undermined in some areas, and to increase humanitarian aid deliveries to besieged areas.

Air raids carried out by Syrian government warplanes killed at least 13 people from one family in a town in the west of the country on Wednesday (May 18), a monitoring group said.

The air strikes hit the town of Rastan in Homs province and were part of a heavy bombardment in the area, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Eight children were among those killed, it said.

Amateur video carrying the logo “Rastan” showed smoke rising from buildings and people, including a toddler, being treated for their wounds in hospital.

Government warplanes have targeted Rastan and other towns and villages under rebel control in the area, which lies midway between the government-held cities of Hama and Homs.

The countryside villages between Homs and Hama have been a constant battleground between Islamist factions and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

In the past weeks, several hundred civilians have been killed in air strikes and rebel bombardments in Aleppo province alone, while fighting has taken place in other parts of Syria, including Idlib, Deir al-Zor and around Damascus.

The fighting in the many-sided Syrian conflict has killed more than 250,000 people and is in its sixth year

Major power foreign ministers failed to agree a new date to resume Syrian peace talks at a meeting on Tuesday and the opposition said it would not come back to Geneva negotiations unless conditions improved on the ground.