Almost 45 civilians killed while trying to escape east Aleppo battle

Published December 1st, 2016 - 05:00 GMT
Nearly 50,000 people have fled eastern Aleppo for the government-held west and a Kurdish-held district over the last few days, as fighting intensifies. (AFP/File)
Nearly 50,000 people have fled eastern Aleppo for the government-held west and a Kurdish-held district over the last few days, as fighting intensifies. (AFP/File)

Nearly 45 civilians are dead after attempting to flee rebel-held areas in Syria's eastern Aleppo under shelling, the second incident in less than 24 hours, a rescue organization operating in the city said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the attack on Jubb al-Qubba, putting the death toll at 21 or more, including a number of children.

Nearly 50,000 people have fled eastern Aleppo for the government-held west and a Kurdish-held district since government forces advanced deep into the enclave in recent days, according to the Britain-based Observatory.

Pictures and video published by the White Helmets rescue group showed about a dozen bodies, including women and children, strewn across a blood-stained street where the refugees had been gathering in the Jubb al-Qubba area.

"People trying to flee the [Jubb] al-Qubba area in eastern Aleppo were targeted by heavy regime shelling," Abdel-Rahman Hassan of the White Helmets, which operates in rebel-held areas of Syria, said.

"The regime repeated the same scenario they did in Bab al-Nayrab the day before," Abdel-Rahman said.

On Tuesday, up to 25 people were killed in the nearby Bab al-Nayrab area while trying to flee deeper into the rebel-held east after almost a third of the enclave fell to government forces.

Meanwhile, state news agency SANA said rebels shelled areas in regime-held western Aleppo killing at least eight people, among them two children.

Observatory director Rami Abdel-Rahman said that in addition to those fleeing to the west, 15,000 people have moved to areas still under the control of rebels in eastern Aleppo.

Local residents and activists say the besieged enclave is still being pounded by warplanes and artillery shelling, with wide areas devastated and abandoned by residents who are seeking shelter further away from advancing government forces.

Abdel-Rahman of the Observatory said some of the men who sought refuge in regime-controlled areas were arrested and interrogated, and at least 300 were still in custody.

The UN's human rights office expressed concern on Tuesday that those who manage to flee rebel-held areas might be detained once they reach zones controlled by the government or by Kurds.

Amnesty International called on the government to ensure that residents of areas it had captured were protected from arbitrary detention and revenge attacks.

The government's recent advance is the worst setback for Aleppo's rebels since they seized the eastern half of the city in 2012.

It comes after a five-month siege that saw the enclave denied food and medical aid while airstrikes and destroyed schools and medical facilities.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in both sides of the divided city by government airstrikes and rebel shelling, including at least 247 in the east and 40 in the west since November 15, according to the Observatory.


© 2019 dpa GmbH

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