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Civilians watch as a tractor clears the rubble following Syrian government air strikes in the rebel-held neighborhood of Tariq a-Bab in Aleppo on September 24.

The United States has accused Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of waging a "concerted campaign" against civilians.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on September 26 that Syrian government forces, backed by Russian warplanes, were trying "to bomb civilians into submission."

His comments came after the Syrian government declared last week a new offensive against opposition rebels in eastern Aleppo, where some 275,000 people are living.

At least 231 civilians have been killed in violence in the embattled city and its outskirts since a weeklong cease-fire, brokered by the United States and Russia, fell apart on September 19, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on September 26 that the Syrian and Russian governments "seem intent on taking Aleppo and destroying it in the process."

Moscow has blamed Washington for the escalating violence, saying moderate opposition groups funded by the West violated the cease-fire and had failed to cut their ties with extremists.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa
Canadian-Iranian sociocultural anthropologist and professor emerita of anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal.

Iranian authorities have freed Iranian-Canadian professor Homa Hoodfar from prison.

Homa Hoodfar, a retired professor at Concordia University in Montreal, was flown out of the country.

A spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying that Hoodfar was released on humanitarian grounds.

"Homa Hoodfar, the retired professor of Canadian universities, who had been detained in Iran based on some accusations, was released this afternoon for humanitarian reasons including illness, and left Iran to Canada, through Oman," Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

Hoodfar had been banned from leaving the country in March after traveling to the Islamic republic to visit family following the death of her husband.

Her family said she had been imprisoned in Tehran's Evin Prison since June.

In the past few months, several dual nationals from the United States, Britain, and France have been jailed in Iran or have faced pressure from authorities.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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