Assad 'ready for peace talks' as government airstrikes hit four makeshift hospitals

Syrian government air strikes have put four makeshift hospitals and a local blood bank in Aleppo out of action in the past 24 hour

Four makeshift hospitals and a blood bank have been put out of service in Aleppo due to airstrikes
Four makeshift hospitals and a blood bank have been put out of service in Aleppo due to airstrikes

The bombardment of airstrikes killed a two-day-old baby in the children’s hospital in a besieged eastern neighbourhood of Aleppo, according to the Independent Doctor’s Association, a group of Syrian doctors that supports clinics in the city.

"Five medical facilities were hit [overnight] and are out of service right now," Ammar Salmo, a spokesman for volunteer rescue group known as the White Helmets, said, speaking to Al Jazeera.

"Only one of the hospitals has suffered a direct hit. People there say it has stopped operations for the moment, but we are told it will be back up in a couple of days," Al Jazeera on-site reporter Bernard Smith said.

"The other hospitals and the blood bank were in an area where there were airstrikes rather than them been apparently directly targeted.  No buildings have been destroyed but operations have been affected in this places. There is supposed to be a ceasefire which began in February that clearly is all but in name," Smith added.

Pro-government forces have surrounded the rebel-held eastern half of Aleppo for more than 15 days, in an attempt to take full control of the strongest rebel bastion in the country's north, Al Jazeera reports.

The air strikes reportedly took place just hours before Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's government announced on Sunday that it was ready for further peace talks with the opposition.

"Syria ... is ready to continue the Syrian-Syrian dialogue without any preconditions ... and without foreign interference, with the support of the United Nations," state news agency SANA quoted an official in the foreign ministry as saying.

The UN hopes to convene a new round of intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva in August. Previous rounds of talks this year broke down as fighting escalated.