Artillery barrage kills many displaced in Aleppo

April AlvarezDec 02, 2016

About 30,000 people are receiving aid after fleeing the besieged eastern zone of the Syrian city of Aleppo in the past few days, taking the total number of displaced people in the city to 400,000, United Nations special envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday.

A barrage of artillery fire struck a housing area for displaced residents in rebel-held eastern Aleppo Wednesday, killing at least 21 civilians, activists said, as another eight civilians were killed in shelling on the government-held western side of the city, according to state media.

Jawad al-Rifai, who took the pictures for the Aleppo Media Center, said they were civilians - mostly women and children - fleeing shelling and air strikes on other parts of the city.

The Observatory's toll of 50,000 displaced was more than double a figure of 20,000 given by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Tuesday.

Fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have already seized at least a third of eastern Aleppo, an opposition stronghold since 2012.

He said Syrian and Russian forces, which have been bombarding east Aleppo, have now retaken a vital road so it can be "freely used for humanitarian supplies".

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Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, more than 250,000 people have been killed and over 12 million displaced, according to the UN. The government blamed rebels for the attack.

O'Brien said Tuesday the deteriorating situation in Aleppo was "deeply alarming and chilling".

Rudskoi also said that Russian Federation is ready to escort aid agencies into parts of Syria's eastern Aleppo.

The Al-Watan daily, which is close to the government, said the army had begun the "second phase" of its operation, pushing south after capturing the northeast of the city.

Many are reported to have fled to safer ground in areas under government or Kurdish control.

Abdulkafi Alhamdo, a teacher who has remained in rebel-held Aleppo, said numerous displaced have squatted in his almost empty apartment building.

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Mr Robertson's concerns were later echoed by former shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, who said the global community should "feel a sense of shame" about Aleppo.

In swift and dramatic advances, Syrian government and allied troops pressed their way into northern parts of opposition-held eastern Aleppo in the last couple of days, setting off a wave of panic and flight from the besieged enclave. He said the government is now assessing where to relocate the thousands of displaced, including in areas recently captured from the rebels.

"The rain stopped the bombing", al-Haj said.

O'Brien, speaking to a special Security Council session by video-link from London, said that the clock was ticking on the city as the winter set in. Moscow considers all opposition rebel groups as terrorist groups, while Washington has supported and armed some of the same groups.

Russia's envoy, Vitaly Churkin, brushed off criticism and said Syria was seeking to eliminate extremists such as the Al-Nusra Front, which has rebranded itself the Fateh al-Sham Front after severing ties to Al-Qaeda.

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