Thursday 22 August 2019

Doctors losing hope in Aleppo as government bombing continues

This frame grab from video provided by the Beirut-based pan-Arab satellite channel Al Mayadeen, (Al Mayadeen TV, via AP)
This frame grab from video provided by the Beirut-based pan-Arab satellite channel Al Mayadeen, (Al Mayadeen TV, via AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, speaks during an interview with Russian TV channels, Russia 24 and NTV, in Damascus, Syria. Assad said the liberation of Aleppo will not end with taking the city, which should be secured from the outside. (SANA via AP)
Syrian soldiers walking among damaged buildings on a street filled with debris near the ancient Umayyad Mosque, in the Old City of Aleppo, Syria. Photo: AP
Free Syrian Army fighters walk along a street in a rebel-held besieged area of Aleppo, Syria December 14, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

Philip Issa

The remaining doctors in the square mile of eastern Aleppo under attack are "terrified" of possible retaliation from pro-government forces and want to be evacuated, Doctors Without Borders says.

Teresa Sancristoval, the head of the emergency unit for the Syrian city, said the doctors who are regularly in touch with her group "feel abandoned to their fate and with no way out".

A ceasefire designed to allow for the evacuation of civilians and rebels crumbled on Wednesday as government bombing resumed.

Doctors in the besieged strip have already been overwhelmed, and only one health facility remains operational.

Rescuers say bodies and wounded are being left on the streets because of the intensity of the attack.

"People are losing any kind of hope," she said.

Free Syrian Army fighters walk along a street in a rebel-held besieged area of Aleppo, Syria December 14, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail
Free Syrian Army fighters walk along a street in a rebel-held besieged area of Aleppo, Syria December 14, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

A ceasefire deal between rebels and the government broke down, ending a chance to evacuate the remaining fighters and tens of thousands of civilians.

Shelling continued much of the day and buses meant for the evacuations, which were waiting at the rendezvous point on the edge of the rebel enclave, returned to their depots.

Activists and rebels trapped in the opposition's last sliver of territory in Aleppo said pro-government forces had struck their district with dozens of rockets.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said western countries are seeking the ceasefire in order to save "the terrorists".

President Assad spoke to the Russia Today channel in an interview aired on Wednesday.

The Lebanese al-Manar TV, broadcast footage of the buses leaving the evacuation point empty and said government forces had resumed fighting with rebels in the city.

Al-Manar is the media arm of the Lebanese militant Shiite group Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside government forces.

The Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement that the rebels "resumed the hostilities" at dawn, trying to break through Syrian government positions to the north-west.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused the Syrian government and its allies of trying to scuttle the deal.

"We see now that the regime and other groups are trying to obstruct this (deal)," he said in remarks quoted by the state-run Anadolu Agency.

"This includes Russia, Iran, forces supported by Iran and the regime."

The surrender of Aleppo's remaining opposition-run neighbourhoods to government control would be a defining moment in Syria's civil war.

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