The Security Council has set an urgent meeting to discuss Syria's second city, where fighting threatens to unravel global peace efforts. The UK and France called the meeting as Russia hints at a new ceasefire.
Britain and France have called a Wednesday meeting of the UN Security Council in New York to discuss ongoing fighting around Aleppo between militants and Syrian government loyalists.
The 15-member council will hear from the UN's top political affairs official Jeffrey Feltman on the situation in Aleppo, where fresh fighting, including a rocket attack on a maternity hospital, left at least 19 dead on Tuesday.
The targeting of medical facilities has brought international outrage with the hashtag #notatarget trending on social media site Twitter.
"Aleppo is burning and it is crucial that we focus on this top priority issue," British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that efforts are under way to agree on a freeze in fighting in Aleppo. Lavrov also proposed that the United States and Russia create a center for rapid response to cease-fire violations in Syria.
"I am hoping that in the near future, maybe even in the next few hours, such a decision will be announced," Lavrov said late Tuesday after meeting UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura in Moscow.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who spent two days in Geneva trying to restart talks, said Tuesday that fighting in Aleppo threatens to snowball. He said that a plan now being discussed would ensure a more lasting ceasefire by separating rival forces from Islamist militias, which are not covered by the ceasefire.
"The line they are trying to draw now would prohibit any kind of incursion of Aleppo, it will not allow Aleppo to fall," Kerry said. He added that the truce was holding in areas of Damascus and Latakia region where he said there had been a "meaningful" drop in violence.
An airstrike this week on an Aleppo hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross killed at least 30 people and sparking an international outcry
Hospitals targeted by airstrikes, insurgent rockets
Syrian state media reported heavy fighting late Tuesday in eastern Aleppo where rebel fighters reportedly fired a salvo of at least 65 rockets into government-held districts of the city. The report said 16 people were killed and 68 wounded.
A February 27 truce between President Bashar al-Assad's security forces and loyalists and so-called "moderate" rebels raised hopes for efforts to resolve the five-year conflict. Al-Nusra and the self-styled "Islamic State" fighters were excluded from the ceasefire and have been regularly targeted by Damascus and its Russian and Iranian allies.
But a surge of violence that erupted on April 22 has left more than 270 people dead in and around the divided city that's threatened to undermine efforts to revive peace negotiations.
jar/rc (AP, AFP)