Jets pound rebel-held Aleppo after army offensive declared: rescue worker, monitor

People inspect a damaged site after airstrikes on the rebel held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Warplanes targeted rebel-held areas of eastern Aleppo on Friday in a second day of heavy bombardment hours after the army announced the start of a military operation there, rescue workers and activists said.

The Syrian military, which is backed by the Russian air force, said late on Thursday it was starting a new operation against the rebel-held east, which is home to at least 250,000 people and was also targeted in heavy air strikes on Thursday.

The Syrian military could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday, and there was no word on casualties.

Ammar al Selmo, the head of the civil defense rescue service in eastern Aleppo, told Reuters a squadron of five warplanes was in the skies over the city, identifying them as Russian.

A fresh wave of bombing had started at from 6 a.m. (11:00 p.m. EDT), after heavy overnight attacks, he said. “What’s happening now is annihilation,” he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 30 air strikes had targeted different areas of Aleppo from midnight.

Reporting by Ellen Francis and Tom Perry; Editing by Nick Macfie and Ralph Boulton