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Aleppo reels from air strikes

ALEPPO, Syria – United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said Saturday he was ‘‘appalled by the chilling military escalation’’ in Syria’s battleground city of Aleppo where residents cowered indoors as air strikes toppled buildings and killed at least 45 civilians.

The Security Council was set to meet Sunday to discuss the upsurge in violence since the Syrian army announced an offensive to retake the rebel-held east of the devastated city.

Nearly two million civilians were left without water in Aleppo after regime bombardment damaged a pumping station and rebels shut down another in retaliation, the UN said.

Ban warned the use of bunker buster bombs and other advanced munitions against civilians may amount to war crimes, after the army Thursday launched the offensive backed by Russian air raids that has cost around 100 lives.

Top EU officials said that the attacks on civilians amount to a ‘‘breach of international humanitarian law,’’ and called for intensified peace efforts.

Washington and leading European powers said Saturday that ‘‘the burden is on Russia… to salvage diplomatic efforts to restore a cessation of hostilities.’’

A week-long ceasefire agreed between the United States and Russia ended on Monday and efforts to revive the truce failed. (AFP)