Assad regime has said that anybody who remains in the city of Aleppo after offering those who wish to leave an opportunity to do so would face their “inevitable fate” as the offensive escalated.
Assad regime, backed by Russia, said on September 22 it was starting a new wide offensive to recapture the rebel-held parts of Aleppo after a week-long ceasefire was declared officially over on 19 September. the offensive includes a ground assault, artillery bombardment, and intensive airstrikes.
Since 19 September, more than 600 civilians have been killed and more than 2000 injured in rebel-held areas of Aleppo province, including the besieged eastern part of the city, Civil defense workers said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who announced on Monday that Washington was suspending talks with Moscow due to Russia’s role in the offensive, said peace efforts must carry on.
A statement issued late on Wednesday said the army had cut off rebels’ supply lines into the northern city and that it had accurate information about the location of all their positions and arms stores. It urged all fighters there to lay down their arms and leave.
Earlier on Wednesday, the army said it was reducing its air strikes and shelling of rebel-held eastern Aleppo to alleviate the humanitarian situation and allow people to depart for safer areas if they wanted to do so.
On Thursday, Syrian government forces seized about half of a key opposition-held neighbourhood in Aleppo, in a new advance against rebels, the Observatory reported.
Fighting had been raging in the residential Bustan al-Basha quarter near the city centre, one of the frontlines in Aleppo which has been divided for years between government and opposition areas of control.
The Syrian military said in a statement that its forces had advanced in Bustan al-Basha.
France wants to push for truce again
France is to launch a new push for United Nations backing for a ceasefire in Syria that would allow aid into the city of Aleppo after some of the heaviest bombing of the war.
France said Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault would travel to Russia and the United States on Thursday and Friday to try to persuade both sides to adopt a Security Council resolution to impose a new truce.
Ayrault has accused Syria, backed by Russia and Iran, of war crimes as part of an “all-out war” on its people. Damascus rejects the accusation, saying it is only fighting terrorists.
Speaking to French television channel LCI, Ayrault said: “If you’re complicit in war crimes then one day you will be held accountable, including legally. I think with the Russians you have to speak the truth and not try to please them.”
The former prime minister said he would also ask Washington to be “more efficient and engaged” and not allow a laissez-faire attitude to take over just because presidential elections were approaching in November.
Ayrault said in the television interview that the situation was unacceptable. “It is deeply shocking and shameful,” he said. “France will not close its eyes and do nothing. It’s cynicism that fools nobody.”
The Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shi’ite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, has been tightening its grip on rebel-held districts of Aleppo this year, and this summer achieved a long-held goal of fully encircling the area.
Recovering full control of the rebels’ last significant urban area would be the most important victory of the war so far for Assad, strengthening his control over Syria’s most populous and strategically important regions.
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.