In Syria Raids kill dozens in Idlib, UN to vote on ceasefire

The Observatory says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to their type, location, flight patterns and the munitions involved.

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Syrian pro-government troops hold a position in Aleppo's eastern Karm al-Jabal neighborhood as they advance towards al-Shaar neighbourhood on December 5, 2016 during their offensive to retake Syria's second city play

Syrian pro-government troops hold a position in Aleppo's eastern Karm al-Jabal neighborhood as they advance towards al-Shaar neighbourhood on December 5, 2016 during their offensive to retake Syria's second city

(AFP)
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Suspected Russian air strikes have killed at least 46 people in opposition-held parts of Syria, a monitor said, as the UN Security Council prepares to vote Monday on a resolution demanding a temporary ceasefire in Aleppo.

Syria's government is waging a fierce offensive to recapture all of second city Aleppo, and it has so far captured more than 60 percent of eastern districts that fell to rebels in 2012.

In Idlib province, in northwest Syria, at least 26 civilians were killed in suspected Russian strikes on the town of Kafr Nabel, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

An eyewitness told AFP warplanes hit several places in the town, including a market.

The Observatory says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to their type, location, flight patterns and the munitions involved.

The group said 18 people were also killed in suspected Russian strikes on the town of Maaret al-Numan, where an AFP photographer saw rescue workers and residents trying to pull survivors from rubble at a market.

The battle for Aleppo play

The battle for Aleppo

(AFP)

The monitor reported two additional deaths, one in an earlier strike on Maaret al-Numan and another in Al-Naqir, also in Idlib.

It said six civilians, four of them children, had been killed in a government barrel bomb attack on the town of Al-Tamanah in the same province.

Russia, a staunch ally of President Bashar al-Assad's government, began a military intervention in support of Damascus in September 2015.

Moscow says it is targeting "terrorists" and has dismissed reports of civilian casualties in its strikes.

Army advances in Aleppo

Following lengthy negotiations with a highly resistant Russia, the UN Security Council will Monday vote on a text -- drawn up by Egypt, New Zealand and Spain -- calling for a truce of at least seven days in Aleppo and humanitarian access to residents trapped in the fighting.

Kefa Jawish and her husband Tajeddin Ahmed check their housein Aleppo's Haydariya neighbourhood on December 4, 2016 for the first time in four years play

Kefa Jawish and her husband Tajeddin Ahmed check their housein Aleppo's Haydariya neighbourhood on December 4, 2016 for the first time in four years

(AFP)

It remains uncertain whether Moscow will use its veto in the council to torpedo the measure after it proposed a renewable truce of only 24 hours, and for militant groups such as the Al-Nusra Front to be excluded.

In east Aleppo, government forces advanced against rebels, taking three neighbourhoods and pushing into a fourth, state media and the Russian defence ministry said.

The army and allied forces are nearly three weeks into an operation to recapture all of the city, divided between regime and rebel forces since 2012.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled the offensive, which has made steady gains and threatens to deal Syria's opposition its worst defeat in the five-year civil war.

State television said late Sunday the army had captured the districts of Karm al-Tahan and Myessar and advanced into the Qadi Askar neighbourhood.

The Russian defence ministry said regime forces had also taken the district of Karm al-Katurji.

Syrian pro-government forces advance in the Myessar district in east Aleppo in an ongoing operation to recapture the city, on December 4, 2016 play

Syrian pro-government forces advance in the Myessar district in east Aleppo in an ongoing operation to recapture the city, on December 4, 2016

(AFP/File)

Rebels are increasingly under pressure in the remaining southeastern districts they control.

State news agency SANA said the air force was dropping leaflets over rebel-held areas urging "militants to abandon their weapons and... allow civilians and the sick and wounded to leave".

Damascus says rebels are preventing civilians from leaving the east and trying to use them as human shields.

But tens of thousands of residents have fled the east as the army has advanced, with some heading south to remaining rebel territory and others going to areas under government or Kurdish control.

At least 311 civilians, including 42 children, have been killed in east Aleppo since the government assault began, the Observatory says.

Nothing but rubble

Rebel fire on west Aleppo in the same period has killed 69 civilians, including 28 children, it says.

On Sunday, the bombardment of rebel districts was so fierce it shook buildings in the west as well as in the east, AFP correspondents on both sides said.

The Observatory said a woman and two children were killed in the eastern neighbourhood of Fardos in government artillery fire.

The latest assault has added to the massive destruction in east Aleppo, which has seen some of the worst violence in the conflict that began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

The army has encouraged residents to return to recently recaptured neighbourhoods, but many who have ventured across to see their old homes have found nothing but rubble.

"This is all we found, this photo of my niece. It is precious to us, and we found a copy of the Koran, so we brought that too," said Um Yayha, 55.

The Russian defence ministry also said Syrian government forces took control of the town of Al-Tal outside Damascus after a local truce.

Despite international outcry over the conflict, successive attempts to end it have failed.

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