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Syrian airstrikes, shelling kill 400

Government shelling and airstrikes with makeshift barrel bombs have killed about 400 people in Syria's largest city so far this month, activists said Thursday, as U.S. and Russian envoys met in Geneva to try to revive deadlocked peace talks.

The bombings in Aleppo are part of a campaign by President Bashar Assad's forces to wrest control of neighbourhoods that were seized by rebels in the northern city since mid-2012.

They come as a cease-fire in the central city of Homs has been extended for three days as of Thursday in order to allow more people to leave besieged rebel-held parts of the city, the Homs governor said.

Gov. Talal Barrazi said that as long as there are people who want to leave rebel-held areas in Homs the truce will be extended.

An official at Barrazi's office said there were no evacuations from Homs on Thursday, adding that officials were working on clearing some 70 men of fighting age who left over the past days. Those already evacuated excluded men between the ages of 15 and 55 in case they were fighters. Despite that, dozens crossed into government areas and passed after questioning.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said evacuations are expected to resume on Friday. It was the second extension since the truce went into effect last week.

Hundreds of civilians have been evacuated from Homs since Friday when a rare cease-fire went into effect. Aid workers took advantage of the temporary truce that was implemented by the warring sides before the second round of peace talks started in Geneva this week. The cease-fire expired on Wednesday night.

Khaled Erksoussi, the head of operations with the Syrian Arab red Crescent told The Associated Press that since Friday, 1, 500 people have been evacuated from the besieged areas.

Before the aid effort began last Friday, the SARC estimated that up to 3,000 people were trapped in the rebel-held district that had been under government blockade for more than a year, causing hunger and widespread suffering of civilians in Syria's third largest city.

 

The Canadian Press

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