Airstrikes on Aleppo Resume as Russia Begins New Offensive in Syria


A 15-year-old boy was buried on Monday in the rebel-held town of Douma, Syria, on the outskirts of Damascus, after an airstrike.

Abd Doumany/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Heavy airstrikes resumed on the besieged rebel-held sections of Aleppo, Syria, on Tuesday, as Russia began a major new offensive against insurgents in the Mideast country.

Jets taking off from Russia’s only aircraft carrier conducted their first strikes on Syria, the Russian military announced, noting that its forces were hitting targets in the provinces of Idlib and Homs. It was unclear whether the strikes on Aleppo were by Russian or by Syrian government warplanes.

“Our house is being shaken,” Modar Sheikho, a nurse and antigovernment activist in rebel-held Aleppo, said in a text message. “The warplane is still in the sky.” He shared an audio recording with the roar of a plane and the sound of explosions.

Residents reported airstrikes on at least five Aleppo neighborhoods. The extent of the casualties was unclear, but they appeared to include at least three civilians, including a woman, who were killed in the neighborhood of Masaken Hanano, and 10 others wounded. There were conflicting reports about whether the attack had consisted of barrel bombs, which are usually dropped from helicopters, or an assault by fighter jets.

“Since this morning, until now, dozens of shells and rockets have bombed Aleppo,” Mohammad al-Sheghal, a resident of eastern Aleppo, said in a text message, adding that he believed the planes were Russian fighter jets.

It seemed that the long-threatened end to the relative calm in the rebel-held eastern parts of Aleppo had arrived, a day after Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, spoke to President-elect Donald J. Trump and agreed to cooperate on fighting “international terrorism and extremism,” according to a Kremlin statement. That declaration echoed Mr. Trump’s recent comments that he would try to work with Moscow and with Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, to fight against the Islamic State in the Mideast country.

The Obama administration has said that fighting the Islamic State is the priority of the United States, not toppling Mr. Assad — though that is another stated American aim. Under Mr. Obama, the United States government has continued to support some rebel groups that Washington deems not to be extremist, and it has shunned direct cooperation with Moscow and Damascus, contending that their campaign in Syria has been focused less on defeating extremists and more on battling opposition groups fighting Mr. Assad.

The Obama administration has also condemned what it says is indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian government and its Russian allies.

A change in American policy under Mr. Trump, who is to take office in January, could involve a shift toward direct cooperation with Mr. Assad and with Russia against the Islamic State.

On Monday, a Russian fighter jet crashed off the Syrian coast as it attempted to return to the aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, in what the Russian Defense Ministry blamed on a technical failure.

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