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Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Civilians flee ‘hellish corner’ of Aleppo

The ceasefire that was reached between the Syrian regime and armed opposition in east Aleppo on December 13 was violated early the following day, according to local media. Strikes hit besieged areas of the city, injuring many people, another local report said. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the bombardments in east Aleppo. This video was shared by a pro-opposition media inside Aleppo and is described as showing ceasefire violations in besieged Aleppo. The media group has many reporters across Aleppo city and province. The person speaking in the video says that he?s filming just after strikes hit the Saif Dawla neighborhood. Smoke can be seen rising in the distance. ?Aleppo is a ghost city,? he says. Credit: Aleppo Today via Storyful

Desperate efforts are now underway to evacuate at least 50,000 civilians from besieged Aleppo. Picture: AFP

SYRIAN activists say shelling has resumed in the remaining rebel part of eastern the city of Aleppo, despite a ceasefire deal to allow for the evacuations of the opposition fighters and tens of thousands of civilians.

While Russian-backed media claimed 6000 civilians, mainly women and children, had been taken to relief shelters, western media reported no movements in civilians.

France also called for independent observers to be installed to oversee the evacuation of civilians, who had undergone what the UN described as a “brutal meltdown of humanity.’’

The news comes as Paris plans to turn off the famed lights of the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday night as a gesture of solidarity with the citizens of Aleppo.

“This symbolic measure at a building known worldwide will aim to once again alert the international community to the need for urgent action,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said.

STRIKES IN ALEPPO: Photos show brutal reality of war

Syrian civil defence volunteers, known as the White Helmets, pull a boy from the rubble following a reported barrel bomb attack on the Bab al-Nairab neighbourhood of Aleppo. Picture: AFP/Ameer AlhalbiSource:Supplied


Rebels officials said the Syrian government forces had broken the ceasefire with a 30-minute attack at dawn using artillery, tanks and mortars at dawn.

Russia responded by claiming the rebels had started the attacks and the Syrian army had responded.

Zakaria Malahifji of the Fastaqim rebel group told Reuters on his men “have begun a military action” from their last remaining areas of control in the city.

Aleppo media activist Mahmoud Raslan says he was reporting for a Turkish agency when a rocket crashed beside him.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says an explosion was heard in the rebel-held Saif al-Dawleh district around the same time.

A wounded Syrian woman is helped onto the back of a truck in Aleppo. Picture: AFP/George OurfalianSource:AFP

Pro-government forces have trapped thousands of civilians and gunmen in eastern Aleppo under a crushing bombardment over the past weeks as they pushed to clear the northern city of the opposition.

The Syrian Government regained control of Aleppo, as the UN warned men, women and children were being slaughtered in the streets as the army took over the last remaining rebel stronghold.

Desperate efforts are now underway to evacuate at least 50,000 civilians who had been trapped in a corner of eastern Aleppo as the army moved in.

There was a further setback late last night with further shelling in parts of Aleppo, and no confirmed reports of civilians being evacuated.

Syrian pro-regime fighters wave as they drive past residents fleeing violence in the restive Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood, in Aleppo’s Fardos neighbourhood. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

In a move that effectively ends the four-year battle for Aleppo, rebels who had waged war on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime agreed to end hostilities, after the city was pounded for months by air strikes from Russia, a key ally of Assad.

The victory is a major win for al-Assad but comes at a massive cost to civilians, who have been slaughtered in their thousands by the ferocious war waged just 100km from the Turkish border.

The rebels fighting against the tyrannous al-Assad government include some groups backed by the west, but also other jihadist groups such as the one formally known as al-Nusra, and the barbarous Islamic State, which the west is fighting in other parts of Syria and Iraq.

As a fleet of government buses lined the streets to begin moving the desperate, starving civilians out of the final eastern corner they had been driven into in recent months, the UN warned of summary executions, saying it had credible evidence of at least 82 murders and possibly many more.

“We’re filled with the deepest foreboding for those who remain in this last hellish corner” UN human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said.

He said of the 82 people killed by pro-government forces, 11 were women and 13 were children.

“The reports we had are of people being shot in the street trying to flee and shot in their homes,” Mr Colville said. “There could be many more.”

Syrian residents flee violence in the restive Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, told an emergency session of the UN Security Council that a deal to allow the rebels and civilians to leave had been struck.

“According to the latest information that we received in the last hour, military actions in eastern Aleppo are over,’’ he said.

“The civilians, they can stay, they can go to safe places, they can take advantage of the humanitarian arrangements that are on the ground. Nobody is going to harm the civilians,” he said.

The humanitarian corridor, and the timing of the civilians’ evacuation, were still being negotiated last night. Mr Churkin said it could happen “within hours maybe.’’

The victory in Aleppo is a major win for al-Assad, and his allies Russia and Iran, whom the US and UN say will be accountable for any civilian atrocities. The three nations deny targeting civilians and blame the rebels for the violence, with Russia saying the rebels had held up to 100,000 civilians as human shields.

In western Aleppo, pictures emerged of Syrians celebrating the return of Government control to Aleppo, Syrian’s largest city and financial centre before the civil war erupted in 2012.

SOT, Maria Finoshina, RT Correspondent (English): “So you think they take it as their own defeat, right?” SOT, Bashar al-Assad, Syrian President (English): “Exactly, that’s what I mean. The defeat of the terrorists, this is their own defeat because these are their real army on the ground. They didn’t interfere in Syria, or intervened, directly; they have intervened through these proxies. So that’s how we have to look at it if we want to be realistic, regardless of their statements, of course.” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad argued that “the defeat of the terrorists is the defeat of the countries that supervised them,” while speaking exclusively to RT’s journalist Maria Finoshina in Damascus on Tuesday. In response to Finoshina’s question about the Western media’s largely negative reaction to the Syrian army’s advance in Aleppo, Assad speculated that the Western countries may take the rebels’ defeat as their own, saying that “for them the defeat of the terrorists is the defeating of their proxies, to talk bluntly.” Assad continued that “these are their proxies, and for them the defeat of these terrorists is the defeat of the countries that supervised them, whether regional countries or Western countries like the United States, first of all the United States, and France, and the UK.” He added that “they didn’t interfere in Syria, or intervened, directly; they have intervened through these proxies.” When commenting on Syria’s assent to allow militants to freely leave the battleground, the Syrian president stressed that “fighting terrorists” cannot be dealt with “the American way: just killing, just killing” before adding that “to bring them [militants] back to their normal life, to be natural citizens, that’s your job as a government.” Assad also noted that Syria’s priority is “to protect the area from being destroyed because of the war, to protect the civilians who live there, to give the chance for those civilians to leave through the open gates” as well as “to give the chance to those terrorists to change their minds, to join the government, to go back to their normal life and to get amnesty.”