Thousands more flee Syria's Aleppo

2016-12-11 05:57
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Beirut - About 50 000 civilians have fled eastern Aleppo over the past two days in a "constant stream," Russia said on Saturday as Syrian government forces close in on the last pocket of opposition control in the northern city.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said that Syrian troops had suspended their offensive to allow for the evacuation of civilians, but the activist-run Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says heavy clashes are still underway.

Konashenkov said that on Saturday alone more than 20 000 civilians left rebel-controlled Aleppo districts through humanitarian corridors.

Backed by Russia and other allies, Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces have driven the rebels from nearly all of eastern Aleppo, which was captured by the opposition in 2012.

Konashenkov said the Russian military was providing civilians who have left eastern Aleppo with temporary accommodation, hot meals and medical assistance. He also urged the US, Britain, the European Union, Canada and international organisations to provide humanitarian assistance.

The UN human rights office has expressed concern about reports that hundreds of men have vanished after crossing from eastern Aleppo into government-controlled areas.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and European and Arab diplomats are meeting members of Syria's opposition in Paris on Saturday. Kerry said he was working to ensure their safety and to save Aleppo "from being absolutely, completely destroyed."

Read more on:    syria  |  syria conflict
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