11/22/2016, 12.19
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Syrian conflict, UN says one million people under siege in appalling conditions in Aleppo

The head of UN humanitarian operations speaks of people "isolated, starved, bombed without any medical care and humanitarian assistance." Government forces charged with deliberate use of "cruel tactics". In November, the rebels rockets on Aleppo killed more than 60 civilians in the western sector. The Security Council’s inaction.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The number of people living under siege in Syria has doubled in the last year, from 486,700 to 974,080 in the last six months. This was stated by the coordinator of UN humanitarian operations in Syria Stephen O'Brien, during a speech yesterday at the United Nations Security Council. The top diplomat spoke of people who are "isolated, starved, bombed without any  medical care and humanitarian assistance, to force them to surrender or to flee."

In Syria, especially in Aleppo, the situation seems to be getting more desperate. Local sources speak of government mortar shells, bombs and barrels bomb on the eastern sector. And yet, the very serious humanitarian crisis due to lack of food and the interruption - prolonged - of aid deliveries.

In the east of the northern metropolis, the former economic and commercial hub, about 250 thousand people live under siege with no operating hospitals.  A government air raid on November 20 destroyed the last operational hospital and the situation is increasingly critical.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) "there are no longer functioning hospitals" in the east.

There is also violence in the western sector which is the government-controlled and inhabited by the vast majority of the population (about 1.2 million people). In November more than 350 mortar rounds and rockets fell fired by insurgents indiscriminately causing problems in most cases civilian targets.

At least 60 people died in three weeks in the west, about 350 were wounded. A public school  was hit on November 20; according to government sources at least eight children died in the attack.

Speaking to the UN Security Council, Stephen O'Brien has denounced the "cruelty deliberate tactic" used by the armed forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad. In recent weeks the areas under siege grew to include the suburbs of Jobar, Hajar al-Aswad and Khan al-Shih in Damascus, as well as several villages in the area of ​​agricultural Ghouta, the eastern outskirts of the capital.

Besides the capital, the most critical situation according to the senior official of the United Nations is in Aleppo, especially in the eastern sector, where humanitarian conditions have "gone from terrible to horrific" and now “people struggle to survive." At the same time there has been a "massive increase" in the use of "cruel tactics", in particular "by the Syrian government."

Finally, Stephen O'Brien criticized the same United Nations Security Council, "seemingly unable or reluctant" to end the war. Moreover, the veto by Russia so far has blocked all the initiatives concerning the Syrian issue, raising tensions between the various powers.

In the context of the meeting, the United States ambassador to the UN Samantha Power has released a list of Syrian high officials who - according to Washington - attack civilians and should be brought to justice. In spite of the complaint, the US administration appears increasingly weak in the Syrian arena, where the incumbent president Barack Obama has never wanted a military campaign. This has encouraged the resistance of the Damascus government, strengthened last year after Russian interventionism. And the re-conquest of Aleppo, in this context, according to experts seems to be "matter of weeks" or before the inauguration of the new US administration, on January 20 next.

In the background, the US president-elect Donald Trump, who seems determined to mend relations with the Kremlin after years of frosty contacts as well as the victory in the primaries of the center-right François Fillon French, candidate of the Republicans in the upcoming presidential Elysée, seems to be another factor in favor of the Syrian government. In recent weeks Fillon has repeated on several occasions that in the face "of Islamic totalitarianism" we must bring together "all possible forces, all possible states, whether they are democratic or no”, to help to President Assad.


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