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Aleppo cease-fire broken; 40 injured in shelling, rescue group says

Hours after a cease-fire agreement in Aleppo, shelling resumed in the eastern portion of the city, stalling rebel and civilian evacuation efforts, local activists said.

The evacuation was expected to begin Wednesday at 5 a.m. Officials brought in a fleet of government buses to move people out of the devastated city but the vehicles have not moved.

The White Helmets volunteer rescue group said shelling injured more than 40 people Wednesday. Syrian officials and rebel forces accuse one another of breaking the cease-fire agreement.

An Aleppo Media Center representative, Salah al-Ashkar, told CNN that Tuesday’s cease-fire agreement “seems to have been violated.”

“Tens of artillery are falling on besieged neighborhoods in Aleppo. There are wounded in the field hospitals, wounded from the shelling,” Ashkar said.

On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power strongly criticized Russian, Syrian and Iranian officials for their part in the violence.

“Aleppo will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later. Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and, now, Aleppo,” Power said in a speech at a U.N. Security Council briefing on Syria. “To the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran, your forces and proxies are carrying out these crimes. Your barrel bombs and mortars and airstrikes have allowed the militia in Aleppo to encircle tens of thousands of civilians in your ever-tightening noose. It is your noose. Three member states of the U.N. contributing to a noose around civilians.

“Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin?”

Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said he expects rebel resistance to continue for “the next two to three days.” The United Nations estimates about 50,000 civilians are trapped within rebel-held areas of eastern Aleppo.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the Syrian regime and “some forces” broke the cease-fire.

“Now we see that the regime and some groups have tried to derail [the cease-fire] and there are Russia and Iran here, there are powers supported by Iran, and of course there is the regime here,” Çavuşoğlu told Anadolu Agency. “It is our wish that no one points the finger at someone else in such a humanitarian situation. There is an agreement here, and this must also be implemented … People have been slaughtered, children have been killed. So now, everyone is responsible here.”

UPI

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