In Syria, where airstrikes have become a common and deadly part of life for many, two recent attacks stand out: they highlight the international community’s continued failure to work together to end years of bloodshed and war.

According to emergency workers with the group Syria Civil Defence, known as the White Helmets, who were at the scene, a Syrian military helicopter targeted an aid convoy and warehouse used by the Syrian Red Crescent in rural Aleppo on Monday night, just hours after a partial week-long ceasefire was declared to be over. Twelve people died in that attack.

There has been no official confirmation of who carried out the attack. Syrian, Russian and U.S.-led coalition forces all operate in the area, although Russia rejected the claims of an airstrike and said the convoy had caught fire.

Just two days before, warplanes from the U.S.-led coalition fired on what they believed to be ISIS fighters in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour. Instead, the Russian military said, at least 62 Syrian soldiers were killed.

Australian military aircraft and an armed British drone carried out the strikes on Saturday.


Damaged Red Cross and Red Crescent medical supplies lie inside a warehouse that was also hit in Monday’s airstrike. (Ammar Abdullah/Reuters)

That attack came near the end of a seven-day truce that Syrians and international diplomats hoped was actually the start of something bigger: an opportunity for the United States and Russia — each backing different sides in the war — to work together to eventually find some sort of peace.

If the week-long ceasefire had been successful, the Americans and Russians would have begun to co-operate to launch strikes against ISIS and other Islamic militant groups operating in Syria.

The longer-term goal was the resumption of negotiations aimed at finding a political settlement to end the fighting.

Ceasefire offered brief respite

But this latest effort came to a now-familiar conclusion — utter failure. And the most affected are likely to be the least surprised by it.

Millions of Syrians remain caught up in the conflict. In Aleppo, Syria’s largest city that has been torn apart by heavy fighting in recent months, residents enjoyed a brief respite after the ceasefire came into effect at sundown on Sept. 12.

Children were allowed out of their homes to play. Their parents did not have to constantly keep watch on the skies as the threat from warplanes and helicopters had ceased. Until Sunday night, where four airstrikes were reported.


Emergency workers working on the ground with the group Syria Civil Defence, known as the White Helmets, blamed the strike on the Syrian Army, but none of the forces operating in the region have claimed responsibility. (Ammar Abdullah/Reuters)

On Monday, hours after the Syrian regime declared the ceasefire to be over, it got even worse. Residents and activists say bombs and missiles rained down on the rebel-held side of Aleppo. Each explosion restored the fear and panic that had receded, somewhat, over the previous days. The hospitals filled up once again, and by midnight, local medical officials said that 34 people had been killed.

Basic supplies running out

For tens of thousands of Aleppo residents, there’s another reason to worry: food, medicine and water had already been in short supply in many neighbourhoods. The situation only looks to get worse.

The United Nations on Tuesday suspended all aid convoys inside Syria after the attack on its trucks and a Syrian Red Crescent warehouse Monday night.

“For [aid workers] to now be the target is something which means that not only can the people of Aleppo not get the life-saving protection that they need, but the best people who are able to deliver are being denied the chance,” said UN emergency relief chief Stephen O’Brien.

O’Brien, who spoke to CBC News on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, said that if an investigation found that the convoy was deliberately targeted, it would amount to a war crime.

‘The future, actually, is very gloomy for us’

Across Syria, the end of the ceasefire brought more violence.

“Today, the regime jet fighters shelled the area here four times,” said Tariq al-Dimashqi, a resident of the Damascus suburb of al-Ghouta. “There were many casualties, unfortunately.”


Images of devastation and human suffering have so far not been enough to motivate the world community to act decisively to stop the five-year-long war in Syria. (Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters)

Dimashqi, who spoke to CBC News via Skype, said he was “extremely disappointed” that the truce could not be extended.

“We want the ceasefire to last and this barbaric war to stop,” he said.

He said that, while he continues to monitor international efforts to find peace, after five years, he’s nearly lost hope.

“The future, actually, is very gloomy for us, because as Syrians we have nothing to do for the future of Syria. The solution is between the international powers, between Russia and America,” he said.

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