WHO says 338 killed in eastern Aleppo in past week

GENEVA (Reuters) - Fighting in Syria’s besieged eastern Aleppo has killed 338 people since Sept. 23, including 106 children, and 846 have been wounded, including 261 children, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

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“We are asking for four things: stop the killing, stop attacks on health care, let the sick and wounded out and let the aid in,” Rick Brennan, WHO’s head of emergency risk management and humanitarian response, told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.

“The situation really is unfathomable.”

Russia and Syrian government forces launched a campaign to recapture the rebel-held sector of Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, this month, abandoning a ceasefire a week after it took effect.

Brennan said he did not have details on the kinds of injuries, but it was obvious what to expect.

“There will be shrapnel wounds, there will be blast wounds, there will be burns, penetrating injuries to the head, chest and abdomen. There will be lost limbs, there will be fractures. The range of injuries is pretty predictable.”

No hospital was able to take hundreds of patients at a time, he said.

Brennan said WHO had supplies for 140,000 people ready for weeks, but the security situation prevented it from taking essential medical equipment into the city.

Asked if WHO had permission from Damascus to send in medical supplies if the security situation allowed, he said negotiations to get access were continuing and he met Syria’s deputy minister of health last week.

“They are aware of the urgency of the situation.”

He also said WHO had met Russian officials previously and made it “very, very clear” about the need for evacuations and the need to stop attacks.

“I think that those communications are still ongoing, and we’ve had some exchanges over the last few days, and there is an interest in facilitating evacuations, but those communications have been ongoing,” he said.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Janet Lawrence