DAMASCUS/GENEVA, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) — There is no sign of respite in fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels in the country's second largest city of Aleppo, prompting fears that civilians trapped in the conflict would face a catastrophic situation if aid routes are not opened soon.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned Tuesday that 2 million people living in Aleppo have been cut off from water supplies following attacks on electricity facilities used to pump water to the eastern and western parts of the war-torn city.
"Children and families in Aleppo are facing a catastrophic situation. These cuts are coming amid a heat wave, putting children at a grave risk of waterborne diseases," said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF representative in Syria.
"Getting clean water running again cannot wait for the fighting to stop. Children's lives are in serious danger," she added.
Though authorities managed to put in place an alternative line on Thursday, it was damaged in fighting less than 24 hours after water supplies were restored, UNICEF noted.
UNICEF stressed that urgent repairs to water-pumping facilities are needed since this is the only way to restore critical supplies to the 2 million people living in the city.
If this is not done, residents will have no choice but to resort to risky practices, such as drinking water from wells which may be contaminated by faeces, UNICEF said.
"We urge parties to the conflict to immediately allow safe access for technicians to conduct critical repairs to the electricity and water systems," said Singer.
"Civilian infrastructure like electricity and water-pumping stations must never be attacked," she reminded.
However, for civilians in Aleppo, the worse is still to come as a decisive battle looms there. In the past few days, both the Syrian government forces and the rebels were reinforcing their positions for an imminent showdown.
The Jaish al-Fateh rebel group earlier claimed that it had broken the siege of the Syrian army on rebel-held areas in the eastern part of Aleppo city after six days of strenuous attacks. Key areas they captured include the military college and the southern town of al-Ramuseh.
Aleppo, previous the country's top commercial hub, has been divided since 2012 between a government-held west and a rebel-controlled east. Many observers believe that whoever controls Aleppo will gain the upper hand in any potential settlement in Syria.