Exodus as Syria rebels lose northeast Aleppo
SYRIA’S rebels lost all of the northern neighbourhoods of their stronghold in east Aleppo as the army made significant advances in its offensive to recapture the entire city.
The regime gains have prompted an exodus of thousands of desperate civilians, some fleeing to districts held by the government or Kurdish forces, others heading south into areas still under opposition control.
“The situation is disastrous,” said Ibrahim Abu Al-Leith, a spokesperson for the White Helmets rescue group in the Ansari neighbourhood.
“There is mass displacement and morale is in the gutter,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion.
The loss of eastern Aleppo would be a devastating blow to Syria’s rebels, who seized the area in 2012.
The opposition has steadily lost territory since Russia intervened to bolster President Bashar al-Assad in September 2015.
On November 28, government forces seized the Sakhur, Haydariya and Sheikh Khodr districts, and Kurdish fighters took the Sheikh Fares neighbourhood from rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. The advances left all of northeast Aleppo under government control.
Nearly 10,000 civilians have fled the east, the Observatory said, with about 6000 moving to the Kurdishheld Sheikh Maqsud neighbourhood and 4000 to west Aleppo.
The United Nations said it was “deeply concerned” about civilians in the east, where international aid is exhausted and food stocks low.
Syria’s Al-Watan daily, which is close to the government, said the next stage would be “to divide the remaining (rebel-held) area into districts that will be easily controlled and to capture them successively”.
But British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for an immediate ceasefire in Aleppo, saying the assault “is threatening a humanitarian catastrophe”. –