As fresh reports emerge of possible chemical attacks on eastern Aleppo, Syria offers Russia priority in reconstruction contracts.
A Russian delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has met Syrian officials, including President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.
As the Syrian civil war approaches its sixth year, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or displaced and buildings nationwide lie in ruins.
The nation’s officials reportedly discussed the destruction in practical terms, with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem confirming Russian companies had been offered priority in reconstruction contracts.
Russia, an ally of the Syrian regime, began leading air strikes across rebel-held eastern Aleppo in September.
Local health authorities and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say containers of a chemical suspected to be chlorine were dropped on the east of the city on Tuesday (November 22), causing breathing difficulties for some residents.
One eastern Aleppo resident described the fight to survive.
“This is a civilian area. There are no centres for the Free Syrian Army… These are civilian areas. They are hitting us with barrel (bombs) and rockets. Where are the Arab states? Where are the Muslims? Where are the Muslims? Do they not fear God seeing this? They are killing little children…”
The United Nations condemned the destruction of the city.
Jens Larke, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman said:
“It is absolutely heartbreaking and unacceptable that we all are witnessing what is happening, almost on direct television, directly transmitted, what may amount to war crimes in eastern Aleppo.”
The UN described the situation as ‘horrendous’ and ‘unremittingly awful’ and reiterated that if strikes on hospitals were proved deliberate and part of a systematic pattern, they could be tantamount to war crimes.
Days earlier, the UN said the 275,000 civilians believed to be besieged in the east of the city had no food rations left.