One journalist in Aleppo called it the city’s bloodiest week since the start of the civil war. The raids also threaten to unravel Geneva II peace talks scheduled for Jan. 22; the opposition Syrian National Council says it won’t attend the meeting unless the air assault on Aleppo stops.
The U.N. condemned the regime strikes on Aleppo, specifically the use of barrel bombs – crude homemade explosives that indiscriminately kill civilians alongside combatants.
The Syrian government defended its raids, calling them a move to “save Aleppo.”
“We do not target any area unless we are 100 percent sure that the ones there are terrorists,” one Syrian official told AFP.
One attempt at a confidence-building measure broke down on the ground. A Thursday truce between regime and rebel fighters in Moadimiya, a rebel-held town on the outskirts of Damascus, was supposed to see food allowed in to starving civilians. In exchange, rebels would fly the regime flag over the town and hand over weapons. By Friday the cease-fire was broken, with fresh clashes and no food deliveries coming through.
Continued instability and shifts on the battlefield have made it harder for chemical weapons inspectors to remove toxic material from the country. As a result, Syria will miss its Dec. 31 deadline for removing 500 tons of its deadliest material from the country, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Syria’s refugee children struggled to celebrate Christmas in the freezing cold, while others inside the country saw the holiday demarcate their town into Christian (largely pro-regime) and Muslim (largely anti-regime) neighborhoods. The visible difference: Christians homes had electricity, light and heat. For the most part, Muslim homes did not.