12/01/2016, 10.06
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UN: Aleppo east, "one giant graveyard”, humanitarian corridors needed

The UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs appeals to those who can "influence" the tide. The urgent need "to protect civilians" on the run "and ensure" access to the area under siege. " Opposition sources define Aleppo "one giant graveyard " as Assad's troops begin the "showdown".


Aleppo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The offensive launched by the Syrian government to reunite the city of Aleppo under its control threatens to transform it into "one giant graveyard" what once was the economic and commercial capital of the country. This was the warning given by Stephen O'Brien, UN Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, calling on the United Nations Security Council to guarantee safety for the fleeing civilians "for the good of humanity".

Tens of thousands of people are leaving the eastern sector, controlled by the rebels, seeking shelter in the Western part of the government. At least 34 people have died under government bombings in the last 24 hours. Over the weekend the loyalists regained more than a third of the territory hitherto controlled by the rebels.

Speaking to the Security Council O'Brien appealed to the fighting parties and those who can "influence" the tide of war to "protect civilians and ensure access to the area under siege", before the eastern part of Aleppo "becomes one giant graveyard."

Since 2012 the city has been divided into two sectors: the western, home to 1.2 million people, under the control of the government; the eastern one, with about 250 thousand people in the hands of rebel militias and jihadist groups.

Local sources said that the residents in the area are reduced to begging for food, hospitals do not work because of prolonged air strikes and more than 25 thousand people face dangerous escape routes to abandon the epicenter of the conflict. Numerous convoys, concluded the UN diplomat, are ready to deliver aid but to do this “they must end the siege."

Several opposition leaders also denounce the serious crisis situation, according to which the Damascus army and its allies have transformed Aleppo east "into a tomb." Anas al-Abdeh, one of the leaders of the "National Coalition" says that "the Assad regime and his allies have turned the liberated areas of Aleppo into a graveyard".

The escalation of fighting constitutes "a war crime and a crime against humanity." For this we need the immediate "and decisive" intervention of the United Nations and the international community that they may strive to defend civilians under siege.

Also from Aleppo east one of the so-called "mayors" of the neighborhoods under rebel control (and jihadi groups, including former Nusra Front) calls for the "humanitarian safe corridors" to encourage the exodus from the city. "Let the civilians escape - said Brita Hagi Hassan, after a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Paris - protect civilians, create safe humanitarian corridors so that they can escape." Opposition leaders denounce "summary executions" and "settling of accounts" by Assad's forces and the Iranian militias, with the arrest "of all young people under 40”.

In recent weeks, before the offensive, Damascus and Russia, had implemented a truce and opened humanitarian corridors to bring out civilians from Aleppo east, but only very few took advantage. According to several sources, the civilians in the east are blocked and threatened by rebels who use them as human shields.

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