Syrian government forces renewed shelling on the last holdouts of rebel-held eastern Aleppo, raising fears that a deal to evacuate civilians and fighters from the devastated city may not be honoured.
“There is artillery [being fired] now … as I speak,” Zouhir Al Shimale, a journalist in east Aleppo, told Al Jazeera in a WhatsApp message on Wednesday.
“There aren’t any clashes,” he said, explaining rebel groups were not fighting at the moment. “There are injuries, but we don’t know how many. We can’t go outside because the shelling is indiscriminate.”
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said shelling could be heard, but its origin was not clear. Speaking to Reuters news agency, rebel commanders said government forces had renewed shelling and violated a ceasefire reached a day earlier.
Medical sources told Al Jazeera cluster munitions were used in al-Zubdiyeh neighbourhood and elsewhere in the remaining rebel-held areas.
The Russian defence ministry confirmed government forces resumed attacks, claiming rebel groups broke the ceasefire in early Wednesday, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
Aleppo, once Syria’s bustling commercial hub, had been largely divided between a government-held west and a rebel-controlled east since 2012. But government forces are now in control of almost the entire city after weeks of intense fighting and relentless air raids.
— Zouhir_AlShimale (@ZouhirAlShimale) December 14, 2016
On Tuesday night, it was announced a ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebel groups would allow for the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents from the last pockets of rebel-held eastern Aleppo to the Idlib area or to Turkey.
The deal was brokered by Turkey and Russia.