* Doctor says 45 people killed in overnight bombardment
* Shelling was most intense in months, rebels and monitor
* U.N. resumes aid deliveries to besieged areas
* Germany seeks temporary no-fly zone, Iran says flights
* Syrian government evacuates 120 rebels from Homs district
By Tom Perry and Ellen Francis
BEIRUT, Sept 22 Warplanes mounted the heaviest
air strikes in months against rebel-held districts of the city
of Aleppo overnight, as Russia and the Syrian government spurned
a U.S. plea to halt flights, burying any hope for the revival of
a doomed ceasefire.
Rebel officials and rescue workers said incendiary bombs
were among the weapons that rained from the sky on the city.
Hamza al-Khatib, the director of a hospital in the rebel-held
east, told Reuters the death toll was 45.
"It's as if the planes are trying to compensate for all the
days they didn't drop bombs" during the ceasefire, Ammar
al-Selmo, the head of the civil defence rescue service in
opposition-held eastern Aleppo told Reuters.
"It was like there was coordination between the planes and
the artillery shelling, because the shells were hitting the same
locations that the planes hit," he said.
The assault, by aircraft from the Syrian government, its
Russian allies or both, made clear that Moscow and Damascus had
rejected a plea by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to halt
flights so that aid could be delivered and a ceasefire salvaged.
In a tense televised exchange with Russian Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov at the United Nations on Wednesday, Kerry said
stopping the bombardment was the last chance to find a way "out
of the carnage".
Moscow and Washington announced the ceasefire two weeks ago
with great fanfare. But the agreement, probably the final bid
for a breakthrough on Syria before President Barack Obama leaves
office next year, appears to have suffered the same fate as all
other doomed peace efforts in a war that has killed hundreds of
thousands of Syrians and made half the nation homeless.
The truce foundered on Monday with an attack on an aid
convoy, which Washington blamed on Russian warplanes. Russia
denied involvement. Prior to that, tensions between Washington
and Moscow spiked over a lethal air strike on Syrian government
troops by the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State.
There was no immediate comment from the Syrian military or
mention on state media of Thursday's bombardment of Aleppo.
"It was the heaviest air strikes for months inside Aleppo
city," said Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights which monitors the conflict from Britain.
A senior official in the Levant Front, an Aleppo-based rebel
group, told Reuters: "The Russians only want surrender. They
have no other solution."
In another sign of the Syrian government's determination to
press on with seizing and holding territory, it evacuated more
rebel fighters from the last opposition-held district of Homs,
which would complete the government's recapture of the central
city, now largely reduced to ruins.
U.N. RESUMES AID DELIVERIES
President Bashar al-Assad, helped by Russian air power and
Iranian-backed militias, has steadily tightened his grip on the
opposition-held eastern areas of Aleppo this year, achieving a
long-held goal of fully encircling it this summer.
Capturing the rebel-held half of Syria's largest city would
be the biggest victory of the war for the government side, which
has already achieved its strongest position in years thanks to
Russian and Iranian support.
The United Nations announced that it was resuming aid
deliveries to rebel-held areas on Thursday following a 48-hour
suspension to review security guarantees after Monday's attack
on an aid convoy near Aleppo that killed around 20 people.
"We are sending today an inter-agency convoy that will cross
conflict lines into a besieged area of rural Damascus," Jens
Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told Reuters.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for a
temporary halt to all military flights: "If the ceasefire is to
stand any chance, the only path is a temporary, but complete ban
of all military aircraft movement in Syria - for at least three
days, better would be seven days," Steinmeier said.
But the president of Iran on Wednesday dismissed that idea,
saying it would help Islamic State and the Nusra Front, al
Qaeda's Syrian branch, which changed its name in July and says
it cut its ties to the network founded by Osama bin Laden.
Assad has appeared as uncompromising as ever in recent
weeks, reiterating his goal of taking back the whole country on
the day the U.S.-Russian brokered truce took effect.
The government's main focus has been to consolidate its grip
over the main cities of western Syria and the coastal region
that is the ancestral homeland of Assad's Alawite sect.
On Thursday, around 120 rebel fighters and their families
were evacuated from the last opposition-held district of Homs
under an agreement with the government by which they were given
safe passage to nearby rebel-held areas.
The opposition says such agreements are part of a government
strategy to forcibly displace populations from opposition-held
areas after years of siege and bombardment.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates several
thousand rebel fighters remain in the al-Waer district.
The fighters, carrying their personal weapons, and their
families will head from the al-Waer neighbourhood to the
rebel-held northern Homs countryside, then travel on to
rebel-held Idlib province, Homs Governor Talal Barazi said.
(Additional reporting by Lisa Barrington in Beirut, Marwan
Makdesi in Homs, Michael Nienaber in Berlin, and Stephanie
Nebehay, Marina Depetris and Tom Miles in Geneva; writing by Tom
Perry; editing by Peter Graff)