Syrian army jets launched dozens of air raids on rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Friday in a second day of heavy bombardment hours after the army announced a new push on the city.
The government, which is backed by the Russian air force, said late on Thursday that it was starting a new operation against the rebel-held east, which is home to at least 250,000 people and has been battered by bombing raids for months.
At least 100 raids have been launched on the city since the announcement, killing at least 26 people, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Aleppo, Amr al-Halabi, reported.
Al-Halabi said that 15 Aleppo neighbourhoods were targeted, adding that the relentless bombardment was hampering the ability of rescue workers to help civilians caught up in the fighting.
The AFP news agency said that two centres for a volunteer rescue group known as the White Helmets were damaged in the raids.
Aleppo was once Syria’s commercial and industrial hub but has been ravaged by fighting and roughly divided between government control in the west and rebel control in the east since mid-2012.
Rebel districts have been under siege by the army for most of the past two months after troops overran the last supply lines.
The latest raids came after the Syrian army announced late on Thursday that it was launching a new offensive to retake rebel-held parts of the city.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was “a large-scale land offensive supported by Russian air strikes aimed at taking bit by bit the eastern sector of Aleppo and emptying it of its residents.”
A truce deal hammered out by Russia and the United States briefly halted the violence earlier this month, but it collapsed after just a week without any of the promised deliveries of desperately needed relief supplies.
“What is happening is Aleppo is under attack and everyone is going back to the conflict,” United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura said.
De Mistura has estimated that more than 400,000 people have been killed since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011, though that number is not an official UN estimate.