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BEIRUT (AP) — A senior U.N. humanitarian official urged Thursday for an immediate pause to the fighting around Syria's contested city of Aleppo as government forces pounded opposition areas with airstrikes and rebels kept up their attempts to break a government siege.
In Geneva, Jan Egeland, adviser to U.N.'s special envoy to Syria, said the world body was ready to send relief to the city divided between government-controlled and opposition-controlled areas once the fighting pauses. The last delivery to reach those trapped in rebel-held parts of Aleppo — where the U.N. estimates some 300,000 residents remain — was in June, he said.
Russia had declared it is offering humanitarian corridors for residents in the area, but rights groups said such passages are not neutral and don't offer guarantees to civilians wishing to use them.
In Damascus, a visiting top Iranian lawmaker said the Syrian government and its allies seek to "liberate" tens of thousands of Aleppo's residents from the grip of what he called terrorist groups.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Iran's parliament, urged the U.N. to help in letting those people get out of Aleppo's rebel-held areas through already identified crossing points.
He said the "liberation" of Aleppo "will have a prominent impact" in the Syrian crisis. Along with Russia, Iran is a main ally of President Bashar Assad's government.
Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 40 airstrikes on opposition areas of Aleppo and nearby towns, including an attack on a camp for internally displaced Syrians in Atareb, a town to the southwest. The Aleppo Media Center, another activist group, said at least two people were killed in the Atareb attack. The Syrian Civil Defense group said a follow-up attack on the camp wounded two of its volunteers, including one seriously.
Also, anti-government activists and a doctor said a missile fell 15 meters (yards) from a hospital, seriously wounding a boy. The doctor refused to identify himself or the hospital, fearing it could be targeted again.
Egeland said that in July alone, 44 attacks on hospitals, clinics and health posts around Syria were reported. He added that the U.N. is hoping at least to "get to a point where we can give coordinates to the parties and not have the hospitals bombed."
Across Syria, Egeland said, the U.N. was only able to meet 40 percent of its aid delivery targets for June and July. The U.N. had hoped to reach 1.2 million people over the last two months.
Rebel fighters made advanced slightly in their attempts to break the siege on Aleppo, seizing new territory in the city's south, the Observatory said. Clashes have been ongoing south of Aleppo since Sunday, when rebels started their counter offensive.
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