Activists in Syria have reported that the first airstrikes in nearly one month have hit eastern Aleppo, as well as Homs and Idilb. Russia has said its missiles did not strike Aleppo, but announced a "major operation."
Russia said it began a new major air offensive in Syria on Tuesday, while Syrian government aircraft carried out airstrikes in the rebel-held eastern parts of Aleppo, reported a monitor and locals.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said about five civilians were killed in the strikes on Tuesday, the first since October 18.
Other activists on the ground put the Aleppo city death toll closer to 10, raising concerns of a return to daily violence in the besieged city. An AFP news agency correspondent confirmed Syrian government planes attacked Aleppo's eastern neighborhoods with airstrikes and barrel bombs.
Russia's Defense Ministry said its missile strikes did not hit Aleppo city, according to Interfax news agency, adding that it had conducted strikes against "Islamic State" and al-Nusra Front positions in the provinces of Idlib and Homs. Al-Nusra Front is the old name of al-Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate group which is now known as Fateh al-Sham Front.
Moscow did, however, announce a "major operation" which saw the first missions conducted by warplanes taking off from its Admiral Kuzentsov aircraft carrier that arrived last week.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights noted that missiles fired from Russian warships in the Mediterranean struck areas of Aleppo province and nearby Idlib.
Syrian food production at 'all time low'
Two United Nations agencies announced on Tuesday that a farming crisis in Syria has raised concerns that people in the conflict-hit country will be forced to flee famine. They said food production in Syria has hit "an all-time low" after five-and-a-half years of war.
Tuesday's offensive took place hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin and US president-elect Donald Trump discussed the situation in Syria over the phone. The two reportedly agreed to combine efforts to fight "international terrorism" in Syria.
On Sunday, residents in eastern Aleppo received text messages from the Syrian army warning rebels to leave the area within 24 hours.
In mid-October, Russia announced it would halt weeks of deadly airstrikes in order to allow rebels and opposition-supporters to leave eastern Aleppo. The rebels refused to take the offer while the United Nations failed to negotiate aid deliveries in the besieged area.
rs/se (AP, AFP, Reuters)