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As Russia claims new peace talks are planned, airstrike hits rescuers in Syria

BEIRUT - An airstrike hit the biggest market on the rebel-held side of Syria’s Aleppo on Wednesday, killing at least 15 people and leveling buildings as rescuers were still sifting through the rubble from air raids that killed dozens the day before.

Activists said the early afternoon strike destroyed several shops in the besieged eastern part of the city, which has been the target of a massive Russian-backed Syrian offensive since the collapse of a cease-fire last month.

Syrian war analysis 04:50

The latest strikes have shattered a relative three-day lull in the area, where hospitals, underground shelters and buildings had been targeted for weeks.

Amid the increasing carnage, Russia said Wednesday that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Switzerland on Saturday to discuss efforts to find a peace deal in Syria. 

The encounter will be the first face-to-face contact between the two men since Washington bitterly broke off bilateral diplomatic contact with Moscow over the Syrian war earlier this month. A brief cease-fire in Syria that was brokered by Russia and the United States collapsed last month.

Lavrov and Kerry will meet in the Swiss city of Lausanne, according to a Wednesday statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

On Tuesday, Russian or Syrian aircraft bombed several neighborhoods, killing at least 41 people, including five children, according to the Syrian Civil Defense, a group of volunteer first responders, and the activist-run Aleppo Media Center. Both groups said 15 people were killed in Wednesday’s strike.

Bombings continue in Aleppo 01:58

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports from inside Aleppo that kids are usually among the victims of the Russian and Syrian strikes, making life a hell for the few families left in the city.

The U.N. and Doctors Without Borders are pushing for a ceasefire -- even a temporary one -- to allow the evacuation of seriously wounded people from besieged Aleppo. So far, the Syrians and Russians are saying no.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of contacts in Syria, gave lower tolls for Wednesday’s attacks but said they were likely to rise. Varying reports of casualties are common in the chaotic aftermath of attacks in Syria.

Dr. Farida, a gynecologist whose clinic is in the market, said it was not clear what the aircraft were targeting.

“Many stores totally disappeared. I can’t find a trace of a mini-market I used to buy things from,” she said, asking that her last name not be published because of security concerns. She said at least five buildings have been destroyed.

“The destruction is horrible,” she said. “The rubble has piled up and the roads are cut.”

The Observatory said Wednesday that at least 358 civilians have been killed in eastern Aleppo since a U.S. and Russian-brokered truce collapsed on Sept. 19. The U.N. says over 100 children have been killed in the campaign, which has also included a limited ground offensive.

Syria Civil Defense workers pulled at least one boy alive from under the rubble Tuesday, amid cheers from onlookers. The 13-year-old boy, Jamil Habboush, emerged covered in dust and dazed from the flattened building, grapping his rescuer tightly.

His mother survived but remains in critical condition, said Ibrahim al-Haj, a member of the Syrian Civil Defense, which is also known as the White Helmets. The boy had lost his father and brother in previous bombings, according to al-Haj.

The U.N. Security Council is deadlocked over how to respond to the Aleppo crisis.

The U.S. and Russia have failed to reach an agreement on renewing the short-lived cease-fire. International aid groups and U.N. agencies have appealed for a halt to the violence to allow aid into the besieged territory. No assistance has entered Aleppo since July, while hospitals, medical facilities and rescue vehicles have all come under attack.

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