Syrian pro-government forces pushed forward inside rebel-held Aleppo on Tuesday, prompting civilians to flee, as the regime pressed an assault to recapture the entire city.
A week into the latest round of fighting, Syrian troops had taken control of a third of the key eastern neighbourhood of Masaken Hanano, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Government troops, backed by Russian and Iranian forces and Lebanon's Shia Hezbollah group, were battling rebels on several fronts inside opposition-held districts, said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory.
The renewed fighting has killed more than 140 civilians in east Aleppo and comes amid international concern for the fate of over 250,000 civilians trapped in besieged rebel-held areas. But despite condemnation from Washington and the UN, there was little sign that the government advance would be halted.
Recapturing east Aleppo, which rebels seized in 2012, would be the government's biggest victory yet in the conflict and deal a potentially decisive blow to the opposition. The city was once the country's economic powerhouse, but it has been ravaged by the war that has killed 300,000 people since it began with anti-government protests during the 'Arab Spring' in March 2011. For the past four years, it has been divided between the government-controlled west and rebel-held east. Masaken Hanano has been heavily shelled during the war, so many of its residents have long abandoned their homes, but the latest fighting has prompted even the last holdouts to flee. Milad Shahabi, a member of the local council, told the reporters overnight that civilians started to flee the neighbourhood, heading to southern parts of the rebel-held east. "We are looking for empty houses to accommodate them," he said.
Launching a gas attack wasn't enough; Assad had to bomb the last hospital so children can't be treated too. #Syria pic.twitter.com/r3PvyBrwVo— Mustapha (@mustapha_itani) November 21, 2016
It has been a horrific week for #Syria’s children. Stop bombing schools and hospitals. https://t.co/MzdEsdbEhr #WarOnChildren pic.twitter.com/xwoQP3zc43 — UNICEF (@UNICEF) November 21, 2016O'Brien condemned this deliberate tactic of cruelty and said the sieges were mostly perpetrated by government forces against civilians. The UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura was in Damascus over the weekend to discuss a humanitarian plan and a truce proposal for Aleppo, but both were rejected by the government. The humanitarian plan seeks to evacuate the sick and wounded from the east, as well as deliver aid and allow doctors to enter. The truce plans calls for the departure of jihadist fighters from the east, but would allow the opposition administration there to remain, at least temporarily. Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Sunday the truce plan would "reward terrorists", and insisted that the government would recapture the east.
2013 gas attack in #Syria a 'false flag?': #MichaelFlynn, #Trump’s national security advisor at #RT10 pic.twitter.com/cr68wOwRzq — RT (@RT_com) November 21, 2016
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