UN: In Aleppo rebels use civilians as human shields. Evacuation deal could be re-launched

The Commission of Inquiry on Syria said that civilians are blocked from leaving the besieged area and the rebels mingle with the civilian population by increasing the risk of being killed or injured. Closed schools become weapons caches. Weapons placed near hospitals. Syria, Russia, Turkey, Iran ready for a new agreement for the evacuation of civilians and rebels from the Aleppo east neighborhoods not yet conquered.


Geneva (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said last night that it had received allegations that opposition fighters in Aleppo are stopping civilians who want to escape using them as human shields.

In a statement, the Commission explains that "opposition groups ... are blocking civilians from leaving [the city], and there are opposition fighters who mingle with the civilian population thereby increasing the risk to civilians of being killed or injured ".

The document cited two particular groups: the Fatah al Sham (former Al Qaeda) and the powerful Ahrar al Sham.

In the statement, the Commission also notes that it has received complaints against the pro-government forces, accused of "summary executions, arbitrary arrests, violent disappearances and forced recruitment."

It is perhaps the first time that a UN body has explicitly denounced the violence of rebel groups against east Aleppo civilians. In recent weeks many escapees from east Aleppo denounced the killing of their relatives because they had dared to cross the border to the west of the city. Others have stated that the rebels have closed schools and used them as weapons caches. The same with hospitals, rebels have been placing weapons in their vicinity.

The complaint comes as Syria, Turkey, Russia and Iran are trying to reach an agreement for the evacuation of civilians and rebels from the last remnants of Aleppo east that has not yet been recaptured by the Assad army. According to Syrian military sources, the agreement was achieved this morning, and the first of about 200 civilians and wounded will also be evacuated.

A similar agreement was to be put in place yesterday, but was broken by the two fronts. Rebel sources say that the Syrian regime and the Iranian allies have sought to tie the end of the siege in Aleppo east with the guarantee of the end of the siege on Fuaa and Kafraya, two villages in the predominantly Shiite area in the north of the country, under siege by the rebels.