Syria conflict: as war rages, children in Aleppo play in pools left by bomb craters

Young boys find a moment's respite from Assad's relentless new campaign to retake east Aleppo from rebel hands 

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The Independent Online

Syrian children swimming and playing in water-filled craters in east Aleppo have been filmed in footage released by activists in the besieged city.

In the video three little boys jump into the murky water in their clothes, whooping as they do so.  

When asked how the pool got there, one says, “There was an attack on our neighbourhood. Some houses were set on fire, three of them.”

“It was created by a bomb,” another adds. “It fell at 3.30am. An entire family was wiped out over there.” 

Nearby, bodies in East Aleppo are still trapped under rubble. 

For the last eight days the besieged rebel-held neighbourhood, which is home to 250,000 people, has been subject to an intense renewed bombing campaign by the Syrian regime and Russian air forces. Civil service defence workers on the ground told The Independent they believe 500 people have died and 2,000 are in need of urgent medical care in what has become one of the bloodiest weeks in Syria’s almost six-year-long civil war. 

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A Syrian boy awaits treatment at a make-shift hospital following air strikes on rebel-held eastern areas of Aleppo on 24 September, 2016 (KARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Residents say they’ve never experienced anything like the new ‘bunker-buster’ ground-penetrating bombs, designed to destroy shelters and basements under the ground. Some of the strikes have left craters up to five metres deep and damaged the city’s already antiquated water system. 

Hospitals, emergency response centres and bakeries serving thousands of people have been destroyed in what rebels say are attacks which deliberately target civilian infrastructure. The US, NATO and several international bodies have condemned the attacks as war crimes. 

Last week, east Aleppo’s main Suliman Al-Halabi water pumping station was hit in a direct strike. The rebels turned off the water supply to government-controlled areas in retaliation, leaving two million people without water for days.

The station was fixed by Thursday, and the rebel-run Aleppo Media Centre released pictures showing some of the streets being cleaned of debris and rubble. 

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Aleppo's citadel is seen through destruction in this picture taken on 28 September, 2016 in the Farafira district, northwest of the city's historic citadel (Georges Ourfalian/AFP/Getty)

However, unconfirmed reports surfaced on Friday that a new strike has knocked out Bab Al-Nyrab water station, which would mean that all the city’s residents are once again without clean water. 

Fighting in Aleppo has intensified following the breakdown of a US and Russian brokered ceasefire 10 days ago. 

The Syrian military announced a new offensive against opposition-held Aleppo last Thursday, which has been followed up with ground troops - the first such attempt to totally retake the city since 2012. 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed in his Eid-al-Adha address to retake the entire country from “terrorists.” Regaining control of Aleppo would be a decisive victory for the regime, effectively relegating all US-backed rebels to sparsely populated pockets in the far north and south of the country. 

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