Syrian regime forces pounded eastern Aleppo with airstrikes for a sixth straight day Sunday, bringing the death toll to almost 300 in the most intense bombing since the war began five years ago, rescuers say.
Among the latest reported violence: a suspected chemical attack that killed four children and their parents. Two activist groups -- the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights and Aleppo Media Center -- said a barrage of barrel bombs struck their neighborhood, al-Sakhour.
The Syrian regime resumed heavy bombardment over eastern Aleppo on Tuesday after a three-week lull, killing at least 289 people by Saturday, according to the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets.
A wounded child is rescued by a White Helmets volunteer after airstrikes on eastern Aleppo Friday.
"This is the heaviest bombardment I have seen in the past five years," said Ismail Abdallah from the White Helmets.
At a time when hospitals are desperately needed, few have withstood the relentless bombardment -- not a single one is operating at full capacity, the Syrian American Medical Society told CNN.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the assault and
"indiscriminate shelling" for killing and maiming scores of civilians, including children, and for leaving eastern Aleppo without a functioning hospital."The secretary-general reminds all parties to the conflict that targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure is a war crime," the statement said. "Those responsible for these and other atrocities in Syria, whoever and wherever they are, must one day be brought to account."
Mr Muallem rejected the truce plan during Sunday's meeting in Damascus with UN envoy Staffan De Mistura.Mr De Mistura suggested the government grant autonomy and recognise the local administration in rebel-held areas of Aleppo if jihadist fighters left the city.
'Aleppo is a Holocaust'
Syria's grinding five-year conflict has devastated Aleppo, divided between government-controlled areas in the west and rebel positions in the east.
A UN proposal to end heavy fighting in the city of Aleppo has been rejected by the Syrian government.
Under the plan, rebel-held eastern Aleppo would remain under opposition control if rebel fighters withdrew.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who met the UN envoy to Syria on Sunday, called the idea a violation of "national sovereignty".
Earlier, eight children died in government-held western Aleppo after rebels hit a school, state media say.
In a rebel-held area, a barrel bomb killed a family of six, activists say.
Local medics say the victims in the al-Sakhour district suffocated to death because the bomb was laced with chlorine gas.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, which monitors all the latest developments in Syria, reported the bombing but could not confirm the gas was used.
In Sunday's rebel shelling of the school in the government-controlled Furqan area, a teacher was also killed and at least 32 people were injured, Syria's state-run Sana news agency reports.
But Mr Muallem said the state's institutions must be restored across the whole city because it was a matter of "national sovereignty".
"It is not acceptable at all to leave some 275,000 of our people as hostages to 6,000 or 7,000 gunmen. There is no government in the world that would accept that," the Syrian minister said.
Mr De Mistura warned earlier this week that the government was chasing a "pyrrhic victory" in Aleppo if it does not arrive at a political settlement with the opposition.
Mr De Mistura arrived in the country amid growing concern for the residents of east Aleppo. The World Health Organization says they are almost entirely without hospital facilities following the government's latest assault.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, at least 103 people have died in rebel-controlled areas since the bombardment began on Tuesday, following a three-week moratorium.
Syria Civil Defence, a volunteer rescue service also known as the White Helmets, said there were 180 air strikes on east Aleppo on Saturday alone.
President-elect Donald Trump's immigration adviser, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, proposed reinstating a national registry for immigrants from Muslim majority countries.
Kobach was referring to the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, a programinstituted in 2002 that allowed the US government to target certain non-citizens inside the country for enhanced scrutiny. Its most wide-reaching effect was to require men and boys 16 years of age and older with temporary visas from 25 specific countries to register at local immigration offices for fingerprinting, photographs, invasive interviews and follow-up at designated times.
The program singled out non-citizens from Muslim-majority countries and most acutely impacted Muslims, Arabs and South Asians residing temporarily in the United States for education, employment or tourism purposes.
Take the story of a 19-year-old athlete from Algeria who came to the United States to play tennis at Western Michigan University. As told to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, he was required to register as a student with temporary status, but due to a car accident, registered one day after the deadline.
His medical documentation didn't matter. He was charged with failure to comply and placed in removal proceedings.
resident-elect Donald Trump, Carl Higbie, suggested on Fox News Wednesday that the incoming president may seek to force immigrants from Muslim countries to register with the federal government.
Using Japanese internment camps during World War II as a constitutional "precedent," Higbie, who heads the Trump-supporting PAC Great America, said that although he did not necessarily support internment for Muslim immigrants, non-citizens are not protected by the constitution, and "we need to protect America first."
Criticizing his invocation of the infamous camps, in which up to 120,000 ethnically Japanese people, both citizens and non-citizens, were incarcerated until a year after the end of World War II, host Megyn Kelly told Higbie "That's the kind of stuff that gets people scared."
An earthquake has hit New Zealand's South Island, hours after at least two people were killed by an initial quake.
The new tremor struck about 13:45pm local time (00:45 GMT) at a depth of 10km (6 miles), northeast of Christchurch.
A 7.8-magnitude quake, with the same depth, had hit the same area just after midnight, triggering tsunami warnings.
Authorities are rescuing and evacuating residents along the east coast.
An initial tsunami warning was lifted but temblors continued Monday afternoon. A 6.2-magnitude quake struck around 1:30 p.m. 39 kilometers west-southwest of Kaikoura, further north of Christchurch.
New Zealand is a South Pacific nation of islands, the two largest being the North and South islands, which are home to most of the population. Aftershocks from South Island reverberated all the way to Wellington, the country's capital on the North Island, where residents were told to stay indoors Monday.
US President-elect Donald Trump has awarded key roles in his incoming team to a top Republican party official and a conservative media chief.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), will be his chief of staff.
In this role, he will set the tone for the new White House and act as a conduit to Congress and the government.
Stephen Bannon, from the conservative Breitbart News Network, will serve as Mr Trump's chief strategist.
Mr Bannon stepped aside temporarily as Breitbart's executive chairman to act as Mr Trump's campaign chief.
The Republican candidate defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's presidential vote, in a result which shocked many, who had expected Mrs Clinton to win following favourable opinion polls.
Mr Trump is due to take over at the White House on 20 January, when Barack Obama steps down after two terms in office.