Airstrikes destroy at least 20 churches in Aleppo, Syria

At least 20 churches in Aleppo suffered heavy damage following airstrikes that were carried out in late September, according to a senior Russian official.

Alexander Dzasokhov, Deputy Chairman of the Commission for UNESCO of the Russian Federation, noted that Aleppo is known for the presence of Christians as well as its architecture and cultural sites.

(Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail)People inspect a damaged site after airstrikes on the rebel held Sheikh Fares neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria October 1, 2016.

"It suffers great destructions now. According to the recent data, 20 churches were destroyed there," said Dzasokhov, as reported by Interfax.

The official also highlighted the need for people to contribute to the preservation of the country.

"I do not exaggerate. That is why the necessity to preserve Syria as a country with a lot of historical and exemplary things is the task not only for the persistent, courageous and worthy Syrian people, but all other peoples and states," he added.

Earlier in September, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) attacked a prominent church in Al-'Aziziyah District of northern Aleppo. A footage released by the Syrian Arab News Agency shows the damages sustained by the Syriac Catholic Church from rockets and mortar shells.

According to the Assyrian International News Agency, other Syrian churches and mosques have been destroyed by rebel forces. Some archaeological sites that date back to the Crusades have also been damaged.

The United Nations also reported last Sunday that hospitals in Aleppo have been "all but obliterated." U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien said that residents have been maimed and killed by continuous shelling and indiscriminate bombing in the region.

"We are in a race against time to protect and save civilians in eastern Aleppo city," O'Brien said in a statement, adding, "They need our urgent action to bring an end to their living hell."

The Syrian military started their offensive in Aleppo in an attempt to take control of the whole city after the ceasefire fell apart last month. The initial airstrikes by the Syrian military and its allies were later reinforced by military operations on the ground.

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