The Latest: UN says many starve in 'senseless' Syria war

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Posted: Apr 28, 2016 4:54 PM
The Latest: UN says many starve in 'senseless' Syria war

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on Syria's civil war (all times local):

11:45 p.m.

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The United Nations humanitarian chief says the world should be "ashamed" at the devastating human toll in the "senseless fight" in Syria where many people are facing appalling desolation, hunger and starvation.

Stephen O'Brien told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that it must not squander the opportunity for peace in the now stalled Geneva talks and again demanded unimpeded access for humanitarian aid.

While the number of humanitarian convoys crossing borders and crossing fighting lines has increased, O'Brien said "current levels of access still leave civilians starving and without medical care."

He decried the Syrian government's removal of medicine and medical supplies from aid convoys, calling the practice inhumane and warning Bashar Assad's government that those responsible for unnecessary suffering and loss of life will be held accountable when the fighting stops.

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10:15 p.m.

The United States is condemning airstrikes and shelling in Syria that killed dozens in the northern city of Aleppo in the past 24 hours.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday described the attacks as "abhorrent" and "immoral" but "entirely consistent" with actions from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Monitors and activists say at least 60 people were killed in Aleppo in the past 24 hours, including at least 14 who died when an MSF-supported hospital and nearby buildings were hit.

Earnest says the airstrikes are straining an already fragile agreement between the government and rebels to cease hostilities. He says the continued violation of the cease-fire is having a negative effect on political talks to end the civil war.

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10:00 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on the warring sides in Syria to immediately renew their commitment to the cease-fire and is demanding accountability for attacks on civilians.

The U.N. chief condemns airstrikes against the Al Quds hospital in Aleppo that caused numerous casualties and the recent indiscriminate shelling by government forces and opposition groups "as well as terrorist tactics by extremists," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday.

The secretary-general also urged Russia and the United States, as co-chairs of the group of global and regional powers and organizations trying to end the five-year Syria conflict, "to exert pressure on all concerned to stop the fighting and to ensure credible investigations of incidents such as the attack on Al Quds hospital," Dujarric said.

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9:30 p.m.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department says that "every indication" suggests that an airstrike on an MSF-supported hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo was carried out by Syria's government.

Spokesman John Kirby told The Associated Press Thursday that "every indication we have received so far would point to the regime."

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov says a plane belonging to the "so-called anti-Islamic State group coalition" was operating over Aleppo on the night of the hospital attack. He did not elaborate.

Kirby says he has "seen no indication that the coalition was in any way involved."

Activists and monitoring groups say over 60 people were killed in Aleppo in the past 24 hours, including 14 who were killed when airstrikes hit a hospital supported by the charity Doctors Without Borders, and nearby buildings.

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7:45 p.m.

The Russian Defense Ministry denies that its warplanes bombed a hospital in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement Thursday that Russian aircraft have flown no missions in the Aleppo region in the past several days.

Monitors and activists say at least 60 people have been killed in airstrikes on Aleppo in the last 24 hours, including at least 14 who were killed when an MSF-supported hospital and nearby buildings were hit.

The Russian military says its warplanes in Syria do not hit opposition forces that are observing the cease-fire and that have informed either the Russian or U.S. military of their location.

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4:30 p.m.

The Syrian opposition accuses the government in Damascus and its ally Russia of destroying a tenuous cease-fire by bombing civilians and hospitals in northern Syria.

Senior opposition official Anas al-Abdeh, the head of the Syrian National Coalition, told The Associated Press Thursday that Russians are violating the cease-fire agreement by "committing crimes and massacres across Syria, especially in Idlib and Aleppo City."

Abdeh says he received reports that recent strikes on the city of Aleppo may have been carried out by Russia as well as the Syrian government.

Monitors and activists say at least 60 people have been killed in airstrikes on Aleppo in the last 24 hours, including at least 14 who were killed when an MSF-supported hospital and nearby buildings were hit.

Abdeh says the cease-fire has been violated 2,300 by government forces and that Russia was responsible for 150 violations since it came into effect in February.

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4:00 p.m.

A U.N. humanitarian official says the world body won't be able to reach embattled Syrians if new violence like mortar and air attacks continues on and near aid convoys.

Jan Egeland, an adviser to the U.N. envoy on Syria, said one convoy into Homs over the last three days was hit by a mortar, and another "had to stop several times because of air raids" on its route and at its destination. He didn't specify who might have been responsible.

Egeland also decried a "catastrophic deterioration" of the security situation in the northern city of Aleppo. Activists and monitors said Thursday that airstrikes and shelling killed over 60 people in less than 24 hours there.

He cautioned that a "lifeline" for hundreds of thousands of Syrians "may be broken."

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3:00 p.m.

Syria's government has denounced what it says is the entry of 150 U.S. soldiers into Syrian territory, calling it a blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty and an aggression.

A statement issued by the Foreign Ministry Thursday says the soldiers arrived to the town of Rmeilan in Syria's predominantly Kurdish province of Hassakeh in the north.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced this week the deployment of 250 more U.S. troops to Syria, saying it's an effort to keep up "momentum" in the campaign against the Islamic State group. The deployment brings to 300 the number of U.S. troops being deployed in the war-torn country.

The Syrian statement said the entry of those troops is a "rejected and illegitimate intervention that was done without the Syrian government's consent."

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2:45 p.m.

A senior Turkish official says mortar shells fired from an Islamic State-controlled region in Syria have hit a Turkish border area, damaging a howitzer cannon belonging to the Turkish army but causing no casualties.

Gov. Ali Yerlikaya told state-run Anadolu Agency that five shells were fired from Syria's Jarablus area on Thursday. He says they struck near the Turkish town of Karkamis. One of them hit the howitzer while others landed on empty fields.

Yerlikaya says the Turkish military responded by firing at Islamic State positions across the border, in line with the military's rules of engagement.

Turkey's military has also responded to cross-border rocket projectiles fired from Syria that have claimed 18 lives in the border town of Kilis so far this year. Kilis is some 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Karkamis.

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2:30 p.m.

A Syrian monitoring group and a first-responders team say new airstrikes on the rebel-held part of the contested city of Aleppo have killed 20 people and brought down at least one residential building.

The new violence on Thursday brings the death toll in the past 24 hours in the deeply divided city to at least 61 killed.

Airstrikes overnight on an internationally-backed hospital in rebel-held areas killed at least 27 people, including six medical staff and three children. State media said rebel shelling of government-held areas left at least 14 dead.

The Syrian Civil Defense says the new airstrikes hit in the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood and that rescue works is underway. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says three children were among those killed in the latest airstrike.

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1:45 p.m.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is warning that the northern Syrian city of Aleppo is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster as a result of renewed fighting there.

The ICRC says in a statement on Thursday that the fighting, which saw the destruction in airstrikes overnight of a key hospital in Aleppo, is putting millions at grave risk. The hospital was supported by both Doctors Without Borders and the ICRC.

Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC mission in Syria, says the attack on the ICRC-supported Quds hospital in Aleppo is "unacceptable and sadly this is not the first time the lifesaving medical services have been hit."

The ICRC also says stocks of contingency food and medical aid are expected to run out soon and warned that an escalation in fighting means that they cannot be replenished.

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1:35 p.m.

Syria's state media have raised the death toll in reports of rebel shelling of the government-held parts of the contested northern city of Aleppo, with Syrian TV now saying 14 civilians were killed.

The state SANA news agency says the shelling on Thursday also wounded 10 people. The shelling came just hours after a series of airstrikes hit a key hospital and nearby buildings in the rebel-held areas of the city, killing at least 27, including doctors and children.

The hospital was supported by Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Aleppo has been bitterly contested since 2012. Opposition groups control the eastern part of the city but have been boxed-in by government forces, and are now linked to the surrounding area by a single narrow corridor to the northwest.

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12:15 p.m.

Doctors Without Borders says 14 patients and medical staff were among those killed in deadly overnight airstrikes on a hospital supported by the aid group in the rebel part of Syria's contested city of Aleppo.

Opposition activists and rescue volunteers say the death toll from the strikes that hit the Quds hospital and nearby areas rose to at least 27 on Thursday.

The Civil Defense says the dead included six hospital staff, including one of the few pediatricians left in opposition-held areas of Aleppo. The volunteer group puts the total death toll at 30 while the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 27 were killed.

MSF said in a series of tweets also emailed to the AP that at least 14 patients and staff were among those killed.

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11:15 a.m.

Syria's state news agency says rebel shelling has killed at least four civilians in government-held areas of the contested northern city of Aleppo.

SANA says the shelling on Thursday also wounded four others.

It came just hours after a series of airstrikes hit a hospital and nearby buildings in the rebel-held areas of the city, killing at least 20, including doctors and children.

Aleppo is Syria's largest city and onetime commercial center. It has been bitterly contested since 2012. Opposition groups control the eastern part of the city but have been boxed-in by government forces, and are now linked to the surrounding area by a single narrow corridor to the northwest.

It's in Aleppo that the now-teetering cease-fire has most been tested, and where more than half of the nearly 200 civilians killed in the past week died from the violence.

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9:40 a.m.

A Syrian monitoring group and rescue workers in opposition-held areas in Syria say a series of airstrikes has hit a hospital and nearby buildings, killing at least 20 people in the northern city of Aleppo.

The victims include three of the hospital's medical staff.

The head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the airstrikes took place shortly before midnight on Wednesday and that at least one child was among the 20 killed.

The Syrian Civil Defense, volunteer first-responders in rebel-held areas, gave a higher toll, saying the strikes on the Quds hospital killed 22. The dead included one of the few remaining pediatricians in opposition-held areas of the contested city. The Syrian Civil Defense said there were four consecutive airstrikes against the hospital and adjacent buildings.

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This story has been corrected to show that Anas al-Abdeh is head of the Syrian National Coalition, not the Syrian National Council