Airstrikes kill, wound dozens in Syria ahead of cease-fire

Airstrikes killed and wounded dozens in Syria on Saturday hours after the U.S. and Russia reached an agreement on a cease-fire set to begin Monday

The airstrikes on parts of Aleppo and nearby towns killed at least 45 people and wounded dozens more, the Aleppo Media Center said, according to the Associated Press. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll even higher at 69.

Russian warplanes carried out the strikes that were also carried out in other parts of the country including Aleppo, the Local Coordination Committees and the observatory told AP.

State media said insurgents shelled government-held neighborhoods in Aleppo, killing one and wounding others, AP reported.

The cease-fire reached in Geneva between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, is scheduled to begin at sundown Monday to coincide with the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha.

Syria’s state news agency SANA says the government accepts the agreement.

The Saturday report says that hostilities will stop in the northern city of Aleppo, the country’s largest, for “humanitarian reasons,” AP reported. It adds that the U.S.-Russia agreement “was reached with the knowledge and approval of the Syrian government," AP reported.

“We hope this will be the beginning of the end of the civilians’ ordeal,” Bassma Kodmani, a spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee, the main umbrella opposition group, told the BBC. “We welcome the deal if it is going to be enforced.”

Turkey’s foreign ministry said the goal is to improve delivery of humanitarian aid. The ministry said it would deliver provisions through the United Nations to Aleppo, where it is “critical” after heavy fighting in recent months.

Federica Mogherini, the foreign-policy chief for the European Union, called on the United Nations to “prepare a proposal for political transition” in Syria from President Bashar Assad, according to BBC.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urged Russia to “use all its influence” to ensure Syria “delivers on its obligations.”


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