The city of Aleppo is at the epicenter of a military escalation that has undermined peace talks in Geneva to end the five-year-old war and U.N. envoy Stefan de Mistura appealed to the presidents of the United States and Russia to intervene, Reuters reports.
Six days of air strikes and rebel shelling in Aleppo, which is split between government forces and rebels, have killed some 200 people in the city, two-thirds of them on the opposition side, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
“The catastrophic deterioration in Aleppo over the last 24-48 hours” has jeopardized the aid lifeline that delivers supplies to millions of Syrians, said Jan Egeland, chairman of the U.N. humanitarian task force. “I could not in any way express how high the stakes are for the next hours and days.”
A Syrian military source said government planes had not been in areas where air raids were reported. Syria’s army denied reports that the Syrian air force targeted the hospital.
The Russian defense ministry, whose air strikes have swung the war in favor of President Bashar al-Assad, could not immediately be reached for comment. Russia has previously denied hitting civilian targets in Syria where it launched air raids late last year to bolster its ally.
The British-based Observatory said 31 people were killed as a result of air strikes on several areas of opposition-held Aleppo on Thursday. In addition, it said at least 27 people were killed in the air strike on the hospital that was struck late on Wednesday. Rescue workers put the toll higher.