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Five-year-old Syrian girl pulled from rubble alive after airstrikes

Attempts to reach agreement failed after Russia refused US demands that it promise to ground the Syrian air force.

Updated 8.21pm

DRAMATIC FOOTAGE FROM Aleppo shows the moment a young girl was pulled from the rubble alive after airstrikes in the Syrian capital.

The five-year-old girl, named as Rawan Alowsh, can be heard crying out in pain as a rescuer digs at the rubble surrounding her before pulling her out of the hole by her ponytail.

The airstrike killed her three sisters, her brother and both her parents and destroyed her home, Sky News reports.

Source: CBS News/YouTube

Missiles rained down on rebel-held areas of Aleppo today, causing widespread destruction that overwhelmed rescue teams, as the army prepared a ground offensive to retake the city.

Reuters reports Hamza al-Khatib, the head of a hospital in Aleoop, said 91 people were killed by today’s bombardment, though the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the number at 30.

Hospitals support by Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have reported significant increases in the number of wounded patients, with 145 injured people being admitted. The hospitals also registered 23 deaths.

“People in Aleppo already suffocating under the effects of the siege, have yet again come under horrific attack”, said Carlos Francisco, MSF head of mission in Syria.

“No aid, including urgent medical supplies is allowed to enter. We are deeply worried by the high numbers of wounded reported by the hospitals we support, and also know that in many areas the wounded and sick have nowhere to go at all – they are simply left to die.”

Progress

The intensity of the bombardment, which included artillery barrages and barrel bombings by helicopters, brought new misery to the estimated 250,000 civilians besieged by the army.

The escalation came after US Secretary of State John Kerry failed to reach an agreement with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Thursday on terms to salvage a failed ceasefire.

The two met again today at the United Nations and made what Kerry said was “a little bit of progress” on resolving their differences on Syria.

“We’re evaluating some mutual ideas in a constructive way, period,” Kerry told reporters.

Entire apartment blocks were flattened, overwhelming rescue teams from the White Helmets civil defence organisation.

Ground operation 

In the Al-Kalasseh district, three buildings were levelled by a single strike, and rescue workers tried frantically to reach survivors using a single bulldozer and their bare hands.

The White Helmets’ headquarters in the Ansari district was badly damaged along with an ambulance and a fire engine. A second centre operated by the group was also hit.

Rescue workers told AFP their stock of diesel was down to 2,000 litres (530 gallons), forcing them to ration fuel and make choices on when to intervene.

Also in Aleppo province, the Observatory reported 15 deaths including 11 children in a Russian raid on the rebel-held town of Beshkatine and 11 killed in raids by unidentified aircraft on Islamic State group stronghold Al-Bal.

The bombardment came a day after the Syrian army announced an offensive to recapture east Aleppo, which has been held by the rebels since mid-2012 but has been surrounded by government forces since July.

The army urged civilians to distance themselves from “the positions of terrorist groups” and pledged that fleeing residents would not be detained.

A high-ranking military source confirmed that the bombardment was preparation for a ground assault.

“We have begun reconnaissance, aerial and artillery bombardment,” he told AFP.

“This could go on for hours or days before the ground operation starts. The timing of the ground operation will depend on the results of the strikes and the situation on the ground.”

© AFP 2016 with reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

Read: UN suspends all humanitarian aid convoys in Syria after deadly airstrike

Read: Four medics killed in another airstrike in Syria

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