East Aleppo residents' text-message ultimatum: Leave within 24 hours

East Aleppo residents' text-message ultimatum: Leave within 24 hours
The text messages, reportedly sent by one of Syria's state telecoms provider, called on residents to evacuate the area "if they want to stay alive".
3 min read
14 November, 2016
The Syrian regime view victory in Aleppo as key to winning the war [AFP]
Residents of the besieged rebel-held district of East Aleppo on Sunday reported receiving a series of text messages from a Syrian state telecoms provider calling on them to leave the area within 24 hours or face a “strategic attack using high precision/advanced weapons”.

The messages, purportedly sent by Syrian state telecoms provider MTN called on “gunmen”  to abandon their weapons and leave East Aleppo “if they want to stay alive” while also striking an antagonistic tone, claiming that Syrian opposition figures, in exile, are little concerned with the plight of the population of the area.

“The opposition leadership is in hotels and castles and do not care about the lives of the poor Syrian citizens of East Aleppo,” read the text messages, which also said that rebel gunmen in the besieged districts should permit civilians to leave the area to ensure their safety.

Residents in East Aleppo fear that pro-regime forces are set to launch a decisive assault on the rebel-held districts following the failure of recent rebel offensives to break the siege on the districts, were an estimated 275,000 people currently live. 

Hundreds have died in East Aleppo since the collapse of a US-Russian brokered ceasefire for Syria in September amid intense aerial bombardment from Syrian and Russian warplanes.

In recent weeks such bombardment has slowed amid a Russian proposed humanitarian “pause” that has called on East Aleppo residents to leave the area via a number of safe corridors set up leaving the area. 

However, few have accepted the offer which has been criticised by international actors as an initiative aimed at forwarding the Syrian regime’s military agenda. 

Translation: To the gunmen of East Aleppo. The opposition (leadership) in hotels 
and castles do not care about the lives of poor Syrian citizens in the 
neighbourhoods of East Aleppo 
[Screengrab from Twitter]

The Syrian Civil Defence, or White Helmets, said on Sunday that one of it’s centres in the town of Atareb, located 25 km west of Aleppo, had been targeted by airstrikes resulting in the deaths of three people, including two children. 

While airstrikes on East Aleppo, where living conditions are amongst the worst in all of Syria, have slowed recently aerial attacks on rebel-held terrain in Aleppo province are ongoing. 

Elsewhere, in Aleppo province, purported airstrikes on a border crossing in the Kurdish-held canton of Afrin, located north-west of Aleppo, resulted in 12 deaths according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which did not state whether the attack had been caused by an airstrike or an explosion. 

Although Kurdish forces in Syria, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are currently marching on the Islamic stronghold of Raqqa, their relationship with the Syrian regime has been described as a “tacit alliance”.

The SDF is viewed by some rebel groups as having been complicit in the regime siege of East Aleppo, with Turkish backed rebels who form part of the Euphrates Shield operation currently active in Aleppo province having clashed with the SDF on a number of occasions. 

Agencies contributed to this report