Rebels say push for peace in Syria is ‘futile’ as Russian-backed bombing intensifies

Rebels have declared the push for peace “futile” after Syrian and Russian warplanes bombarded Aleppo in the worst surge of violence in the city for years. The declaration comes as the UN Security Council convenes for an emergency meeting on the crisis. The 30 rebel groups - including the biggest faction backed by Turkey, Gulf states and the West - said the bombing campaign was “unprecedented”. Scores have been killed since a US-Russia brokered ceasefire broke down earlier this week. Efforts to revive such an agreement are now a lost cause unless there is an immediate end to fighting and aid is forthcoming, rebels said.

The burden is on Russia to prove it is willing and able to take extraordinary steps to salvage diplomatic efforts. Patience with Russia’s continued inability or unwillingness to adhere to its commitments is not unlimited.

Joint statement from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the US and European Union

The statement also said rebels could not accept “Russia as a sponsor because it was a partner with the regime in its crimes against our people”. And it claimed Russian-backed Syrian forces were using napalm and chemical weapons without censure by the international community. Warplanes have bombed a strategic camp on the northern edge of Aleppo, as Syrian government and rebel forces battle for control of the high ground. Jets have also continued to hit residential parts of the town, rebels and residents said. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has described the latest surge in violence as “chilling”. As well as strikes from the air, the Syrian army is also attempting to make gains on the ground.