The Assad regime’s army and pro-regime forces have taken control of the main road leading into rebel-held areas in Aleppo, effectively cutting off the rebels’ main supply route, trapping 300.000 civilians amid fears of them starving to death.
Castello Road, the only route into the city’s east, is now mostly in Assad regime’s hands, with pro-rebel neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo completely besieged. The road has been under constant bombardment from pro-regime forces, a monitoring group told CNN.
The capture of the Castello road, which had been used by rebels as well as merchants bringing food into the city, further tightens Assad regime’s grip on opposition areas in the north.
“It’s completely cut,” Zakaria Malahifji of the Aleppo-based rebel group Fastaqim, told Reuters.
“The army has reached the road and even arrested a group of civilians who were walking there,” a rebel fighter from the Aleppo Revolutionaries group told the AFP news agency. “They are now setting up sandbag barriers.”
Aleppo has seen many of its neighborhoods come under fire for 80 consecutive days, with more than 6,000 people — mainly civilians — killed or injured, according to the observatory. It said rebel-held areas in the east of the city have come under sustained attack by regime artillery and airstrikes, while rebel and Islamic factions have shelled regime-controlled areas in western neighborhoods.
300.000 civilians besieged in Aleppo
The UN has warned that nearly 300,000 people rely on the Castello Road for travel, food and medicine, with local market stalls sparsely stocked.
“We are deeply worried about what will happen to civilians as the fighting closes in and intensifies, while their already minimal supplies of food, water and medicine run out,” Mr. Zeid said.
Activists and doctors have warned the situation will worsen conditions in the city that has become a key battleground between regime-controlled areas in the west and rebel-held areas in the east.
“Aleppo is under full ground siege after the regime took some points on the road,” Aleppo-based activist Bahaa al-Halaby told PA.
Dr Samer Attar, a Chicago-based orthopaedic surgeon who has been working with local medics in Aleppo told NBC News the loss of the road was a “death sentence” and had already had severe impacts on supplies of food and medicine.
He said: “People are running out of fresh fruit and meat. Hospitals and their staff are exhausted.”
The entire city “is going to be bombed and starved to death … unless the international community acts,” he added.