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Rebels plea for respite as regime advances in Aleppo

Tens of thousands of refugees have fled the fighting in East Aleppo [AFP]

Date of publication: 7 December, 2016

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Rebel central command in Syria has called for a truce and the safe evacuation of wounded fighters and civilians, as regime troops capture Aleppo's old city.
Aleppo's rebels have called for a break from the regime's assault to allow the city's wounded to be evacuated, after President Assad's forces took control of the city's historic centre on Tuesday night.

An "immediate" five-day ceasefire is needed for 500 patients to be moved to safety under UN supervision, said the Aleppo Leadership Council on Wednesday morning.

"Civilians should either be protected or evacuated to a safe area where they will not be under the mercy of Assad and his henchmen."

In a list of four demands, the leadership council also called for the safe passage of civilians to rural areas north of Damascus. Much of this area is controlled by Kurdish forces and is considered to be outside of regime control.

The council said women in the city were being raped in revenge attacks and young men were being "unfairly detained".

The council said women in the city were being raped in revenge attacks

Regime soldiers, backed by Shia militias from across the Middle East, launched an offensive to take control of rebel-controlled east Aleppo last week.

[Click to enlarge]

Rebel forces had controlled many of the city's eastern neighbourhoods, but have now lost control over the majority of their previously held territory.

An unnamed Syrian official told reporters the regime was aiming to take full control of Aleppo before US President-elect Trump took office in January.

Around 80,000 civilians have fled the city in the past week, while tens of thousands more remain trapped in areas of entrenched fighting.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, had reportedly promised talks in Geneva with the United States over a rebel withdrawal. Later reports suggested no such dialogue would occur.

At time of publication, there had not been any slowdown in fighting, and regime forces had continued to capture further rebel neighbourhoods.

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