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World

Regime Bombings Interrupt Daily Life In Syrian City Of Aleppo

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

As we heard, a major issue between Russia and Turkey has been Syria. And at the heart of the fighting in the Syrian civil war is the battle for the divided city of Aleppo. Over the weekend, rebels broke a government blockade, and government forces stepped up their bombings.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The violence knocked out electricity and with it, the pumping stations that have been providing water for 2 million people. Today we reached one aid worker via Skype. He lives and works in Aleppo with the group Mercy Corps. We're not identifying him because the group says their workers have been targeted. He told me there isn't fuel to boil water, and now he can't find rice or bread in the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The streets are empty. The market's still closed - completely closed. We don't have any electricity since the five days we have some generators. And because of the siege, we don't have fuel for the generators. We have just five or six, and they are working for the hospitals. And the...

CORNISH: So for the whole city there are just five generators, and they're operating the hospitals to generate electricity.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, because they...

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: ...Have surgery for the people who are injured, yes.

CORNISH: And the sound behind you just then - what was that?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It was some kind of bombing. We hearing bombing all the day.

CORNISH: So it's - you're hearing bombing all day.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah.

CORNISH: There is no electricity. And now I understand the water is shut off.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah.

CORNISH: What does that mean? What access do you have at all to drinking water?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We have access for the water and wells. It's not drinkable. All I can say that situation is miserable in all of the city. They are so scared maybe they will starve to death, maybe something they - yes, they are so scared now.

CORNISH: Adding to the urgency in Aleppo is the fact that the city is suffering a heat wave - temperatures around a hundred degrees. Humanitarian groups are trying to raise the alarm.

Hanaa Singer, a UNICEF representative in Syria, told me the U.N. and its partners hope to send supplies tomorrow - food, medicine and water purification tablets. They were able to get some limited relief into the city today.

HANAA SINGER: This afternoon, UNICEF and partners were able to deliver enough fuel to run a generator in a place called Suleiman al-Halabi, which is a pumping station. And so we're expecting at least a little bit of a release, some water pressure for a day. If this test succeeds, we think we can, over the next five days, deliver fuel to make the water running.

However, this is not enough. This is absolutely not enough. We need a full-fledged cease-fire so that we can fix both the electric station and the pumping station.

CORNISH: Hanaa Singer, as you said, you are calling for a cease-fire - right? - to bring in more humanitarian aid. Do you get any sense that that message is coming through, that this is something that the sides would actually agree to at this point?

SINGER: I hope they do. I hope, or else we are facing a catastrophic situation. So I urge all parties to the conflict to really grant safe access for technicians to repair the electric infrastructure. I hope they are hearing we have 2 million people that are at great, great risk.

CORNISH: Hanaa Singer of UNICEF - she's in Damascus, Syria - thank you so much.

SINGER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.