Early Friday, fighter jets launched airstrikes in rebel-held areas of Aleppo, with the Syria Civil Defense service, known as the White Helmets, stating that three of their four facilities in the east of the city were “deliberately targeted,” according to NBC News.
“What’s happening now is annihilation,” Ammar al Selmo, the head of the service in Aleppo, told Reuters. The White Helmets, a group of civilian volunteer rescue workers, also stated that a large number of people, including one of their own members, died in the strikes that started at 6pm local time and that “many are still under the rubble.”
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) September 23, 2016
About 200 airstrikes have hit Aleppo since Friday morning, with an estimated death toll of more than 100 — though figures have not been confirmed at the time.
The air raids are said to be worse than before the ceasefire, brokered between the US and Russia, that went into effect on September 12 and fell apart less than a week later, due to US-led coalition forces that hit a Syrian position. According to CNN, the US military didn’t dispute the strike, characterizing it as “unintentional” and relaying its “regret” to Syria through Russia.
“The Syrian tragedy shames us all,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “The collective failure of the international community should haunt every member of this Council.”
The White Helmets were recently the topic of the new Netflix documentary of the same name. Directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, the film, which is now available on the streaming service, takes a look at the group of first responders who risk their lives to rescue victims after daily airstrikes pound civilian targets in Syria.
The director and producer Joanna Natasegara wrote in a piece for IndieWire that what they experienced after spending over five weeks on the Syrian border with the White Helmets changed them. “Nothing could prepare us for the scale of the destruction and the daily trauma they were subjected to…The White Helmets we filmed were a group of humble and highly committed individuals, undoubtedly damaged by years of witnessing the most horrific sights imaginable on a daily basis, somehow maintaining an unshakeable determination to continue their work.”
She added, “We wanted to share these tales of bravery not only because they reaffirm our faith in the good of humanity in a world shaded by so much darkness, but also because they inspire us to work harder for what we believe in.”