The UN haven’t been able to stop the Assad-Russian offensive on Aleppo since its very beginning, and will not be able to convince them to stop it as their victory became close. Thus, it suggested an evacuation plan to save the sick and wounded civilians.
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 since the start of this year.
They have gradually closed in on eastern Aleppo this year, first cutting the most direct lifeline to Turkey before fully encircling the east, and launching a major assault in September.
Assad regime forces started a major offensive to push opposition fighters out of the besieged eastern half of the city on 15 November.
Helicopters continue extensively dropping barrel bombs in conjunction with airstrikes by warplanes on areas in the eastern neighborhoods of the city, accompanied by artillery shelling by the regime forces in the same places.
The regime’s forces’ persistent and the intensive airstrikes forced the rebels to leave the areas they hold.
Government forces scored an important victory on Wednesday when the rebels retreated from the Old City, the historic heart of Aleppo.
They extended their advances later in the day, seizing the Bab al-Nayrab, Al-Maadi and Salhin neighborhoods, according to state media.
More neighborhoods were expected to fall soon, but rebels were fighting ferociously.
In a blistering, three-week offensive, Assad regime forces have seized about 80 percent of east Aleppo, a stronghold for rebel groups since 2012, and became close to winning the battle there.
The Syrian Civil Defence, a first responder group also known as the White Helmets, said air strikes and shelling on Wednesday killed 61 people in what’s left of the rebel-held east of the city.
On Monday, Russia and China blocked a draft resolution at the UN Security Council demanding a seven-day truce in Aleppo to evacuate the sick and wounded, and to provide humanitarian aid workers time to get food and medicine in.
Moscow argued that rebels used such pauses in the fighting to reinforce, causing more fighting and “harm to civilians”.
— Lina shamy (@Linashamy) December 8, 2016
— Military Advisor (@miladvisor) December 8, 2016
UN: Civilians evacuation is needed
The UN haven’t been able to stop the Assad-Russian offensive since its very beginning, and will not be able to convince them to stop it as their victory became close.
The only way the UN can save its face and claim that it is worried about Aleppo is by calling for “safe evacuation for civilians.”
With hospitals, clinics, water and food cut off, UN chief Ban Ki-moon called the situation was “heart-breaking”.
U.N. Syria humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said on Thursday that the United States and Russia must broker an evacuation from east Aleppo.
“Russia said they will definitely be discussing with us how to organize the evacuations, but they are not any more promising any pause (in fighting),” Egeland said.
“Today 150,000 people are threatened with extermination,” he said.
The U.N. described east Aleppo’s health situation as “catastrophic”.
Some 1,500 people need medical evacuation, including 500 “seriously wounded”, said Tawfik Chamaa of the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations.
A UN official said about 31,500 people from east Aleppo have been displaced around the entire city over the past week, with hundreds more seen on the move on Wednesday.
The evacuated civilians faced a new threat, as Assad regime forces arrested tens of men between 18-35 and took them to unknown directions.
— Anadolu Images (@anadoluimages) December 8, 2016
— ICRC Syria (@ICRC_sy) December 8, 2016
Capturing eastern Aleppo would be the biggest victory for Assad regime since the start of the revolution against him in 2011, restoring his control over the whole city apart from a Kurdish-held area that has not fought against him.
It would also be seen as a victory for his allies, Russia and Iran, which have outmaneuvered the West and Assad’s regional enemies through direct military intervention.
For Assad regime, taking back Aleppo would make its forces focus on ending the remaining rebels-held areas. These areas include the rebels’ stronghold in Idlib in addition to isolated areas in rural Damascus, Homs, and Hama.