Syrian pro-government forces execute 82 civilians in Aleppo

Geneva, Dec 13 (IANS) Pro-Syrian government forces executed 82 civilians in Aleppo during the ongoing battle to take back the final rebel-held area, UN officials said on Tuesday.

According to the UN Human Rights office (UNHCR) spokesman Rupert Coleville, the victims included 11 women and 13 children and many bodies could not be recovered from the street due to constant bombings, Efe news agency reported.

The UN said the Iraqi Shiite al-Nujaba paramilitary group, which fights alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s troops, had executed civilians in their homes.

Spokesman for the UN Humanitarian Office Jens Laerke called for a cessation in conflict so that evacuations and medical provisions could be facilitated.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a war monitor based in Britain, confirmed the continued fighting in the last pockets of rebel territory.

“Every hour, butcheries are carried out,” the SOHR said, adding evidence to earlier UN reports of atrocities being committed against civilians.

The reports come as Syrian soldiers recaptured neighbourhoods of east Aleppo in the rebels’ last stand against the government forces.

“Young people especially were executed,” said Ahmad Dbais, director of hospitals for the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations.

Terrified residents slept on the streets after Syrian soldiers forced them out of their homes, Aleppo resident and journalist Karam al Masri told CNN.

Syria Civil Defence activist group, the White Helmets, pleaded with the international community to provide safe passage out of Aleppo for their volunteers and about 100,000 civilians.

“The regime has been trying to kill us for five years,” the group said on Twitter. “Please don’t give them this chance.”

The Syrian army and its allies have aggressively pushed into the rebel sections of east Aleppo in recent days, said the Syrian government.

“It is going to be a very difficult situation because there is no place for all these fleeing civilians,” said Ismail Abdallah, a member of the White Helmets.

Abdallah told CNN the al-Fardous neighbourhood has been captured by Syrian government forces, while some areas of resistance remain in parts of the city.

“There is a mass exodus of terrified civilians fleeing from al-Fardous, al-Jaloom, al-Salheine and areas that have been captured today to other areas such as al-Mashhad and Salah Eddiene,” he said.

According to SANA news agency, the army units are “continuing the operations and targeting the remnants of the terrorists who fled away” towards the al-Sukkari and al-Fardous neighbourhoods.

There are also reports of civilian casualties as a result of the shelling, according to media organisations with teams in Aleppo.

The international community has failed to broker a ceasefire for the city, which appears on the brink of falling back into regime control.

Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm over “reports of atrocities against a large number of civilians, including women and children”.

“While stressing that the UN is not able to independently verify these reports, the Secretary General is conveying his grave concern to the relevant parties,” the UN statement said.

The government controls western Aleppo and its troops have made significant territorial gains in the east since its forces entered the enclave by ground on November 27, backed by continual airstrikes.

The government has now taken more than three-quarters of the area.

Rebel groups held eastern Aleppo for more than four years after the Arab Spring uprising, and a Syrian regime siege on the area had essentially cut it off from the outside world, sparking a humanitarian crisis there.

–IANS

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