Syrian regime text Aleppo residents warning of 'final siege'

Syrian regime text Aleppo residents warning of 'final siege'
Syrian regime forces sent text messages to civilians in Aleppo promising 'safe passage' out of eastern Aleppo, although Syrians question the claims.
2 min read
27 July, 2016

Aleppo airstrikes kill 16

Syrian regime forces sent text messages to residents of rebel-held parts of Aleppo, promising safe passage out of the city as they ready to tighten a siege.

The army said it would cut off all supply lines to rebel-held western Aleppo, state-run SANA news agency claimed.

Regime troops urged residents to force out rebel fighters from Aleppo, promising safe passage and temporary accommodation for civilians who wished to flee their homes, Syrian regime media said.

Damascus had called on opposition fighters to surrender to authorities as pro-government forces captured new ground on the northwestern edge of the city, tightening their siege on rebel-held areas which is home to 300,000 Syrians.

"The General Command asserted its keenness on the safety and security of all citizens, calling on them to cooperate with the Syrian Arab Army to contribute to the cessation of combat and restoring calm, services and normal life to Aleppo city," SANA said.

Baraa al-Halabi, an opposition activist in Aleppo, described the army claim about safe passages as "nonsense" and told AP he was not aware of any telephone messages sent to residents.

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Dozens of people have been killed in the past few weeks amid intense fighting in eastern Aleppo.

On Wednesday, at least 16 civilians were killed following regime air raids and shelling of rebel-held areas of Aleppo.

Grim scenes of people trapped under the rubble of buildings have emerged and food shortages have been reported.

The UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien told the Security Council Monday that Aleppo risks becoming the largest besieged area in the country.

Food supplies are expected to run out in mid-August and many medical facilities continue to be attacked, he added.

In Geneva, the UN envoy for Syria said he aims to call a new round of talks between government and opposition envoys in Geneva "toward the end of August".

Staffan de Mistura said he wants to see the outcome of steps agreed upon in Moscow last week between the US and Russia, in order "to make these talks particularly fruitful and hopeful" before setting a precise date.

Syrian regime forces and their allies have been on the offensive around Aleppo, Syria's largest city, for weeks.

Agencies contributed to this report.