Up to 20 000 flee Aleppo as Govt troops ad­vance

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

Up to 20 000 peo­ple have fled eastern Aleppo over the past 72 hours as Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces con­tin­ued to ad­vance in the rebel-held part of the city, ac­cord­ing to the Red Cross.

Ter­ri­fied civil­ians have fled empty-handed into re­main­ing rebel-held ter­ri­tory, or crossed into gov­ern­ment-con­trolled west­ern Aleppo or Kur­dish-held dis­tricts.

The 20 000 fig­ure is an es­ti­mate and could in­crease as “peo­ple are flee­ing in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions”, In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross spokesper­son Krista Arm­strong told the AFP news agency.

United Na­tions hu­man­i­tar­ian chief Stephen O’Brien had ear­lier put the num­ber of dis­placed peo­ple from eastern Aleppo at 16 000. The city, which was Syria’s big­gest be­fore the start of a civil war that has killed hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple, has been di­vided be­tween the gov­ern­ment-held west and rebel-held east, where UN of­fi­cials say at least 250 000 peo­ple re­main un­der siege.

The Syr­ian gov­ern­ment of­fen­sive to re­cap­ture the re­bel­held parts of Aleppo has sparked in­ter­na­tional alarm as it in­ten­si­fied this week.

A vol­un­tary res­cue group known as the White Hel­mets re­ported at least 51 civil­ians killed in east Aleppo and more than 150 in­jured dur­ing the gov­ern­ment as­sault.

Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces dropped “more than 150 air strikes from war planes and he­li­copters and [fired] more than 1 200 ar­tillery shells”, the group wrote on its Face­book page.

The at­tacks hit the neigh­bour­hoods of Bab al-Nairab, al-Mayser and al-Sal­heen, among oth­ers.

SANA, the of­fi­cial Syr­ian state me­dia arm, re­ported that Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces and al­lies on Mon­day took con­trol of sev­eral ar­eas in the city’s north­east, in­clud­ing al-Haidariya, al-Sakhour, al-In­zarat, al-Sheikh Khedr, Ja­bal Badro, and al-Halk.

France called for an im­me­di­ate UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil ses­sion on the fight­ing, which has seen the army cap­ture a third of op­po­si­tion-con­trolled east Aleppo in re­cent days.

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil will hold an emer­gency meet­ing on Wed­nes­day on the dire hu­man­i­tar­ian crisis un­fold­ing in Aleppo, diplo­mats said.

The 15 am­bas­sadors of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil will get a video-con­fer­ence briefing on the sit­u­a­tion in Aleppo by a UN of­fi­cial in charge of hu­man­i­tar­ian op­er­a­tion and the UN me­di­a­tor in Syria, Staffan de Mis­tura. — Al Jazeera

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