19:47 Sep. 23, 2016
The Times publishes a longread on under the topic "Assad blitzes Aleppo while denying city is under siege"
The Syrian army launched an offensive to retake rebel-controlled Aleppo last night after Russian and Syrian warplanes rained incendiary and barrel bombs on the area in the heaviest bombardment in months.
The army announced the fresh offensive as the US and Russia convened a meeting that failed to resurrect a collapsed ceasefire. The two nations clashed openly at the UN on Wednesday over who was responsible for the failure of the two-week cessation of hostilities, and the blistering bombardment of Aleppo began hours later.
Video footage shot by residents showed entire streets in the Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood alight, with incendiary munitions still falling from the sky and the sound of incoming artillery booming in the background. Doctors said that dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured. Hospitals were overwhelmed and one of them was damaged in the blitz.
An activist described the strikes as non-stop and added: "The sky lit up all night. The Russians want to bomb us into surrender."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights called the bombardment "the most intense for months".
The ceasefire agreed by Russia and the US collapsed on Monday after an attack on a humanitarian aid convoy in which 20 civilians died. Washington blamed Moscow, which flatly denied responsibility.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, proposed that all aircraft over rebel-held northern Syria be grounded in an effort to salvage the ceasefire and allow aid deliveries to resume. Russia formally rejected the idea, calling it "not functional", and accused Washington of failing to honour an undertaking to make western-backed rebels disengage from co-operation with hardline groups.
Mr Kerry reiterated last night after talks broke down that "the only way" to revive the truce would be "if the ones that have the air power in that part of the conflict simply stop using it." He said that he was willing to talk to the Russians again today.