Russia helps Aleppo residents escape
As Syrian forces bomb Aleppo, Russia offers beleaguered residents “humanitarian escape corridors.”
Syrian regime ally Russia on Thursday announced a “large-scale” aid operation to allow civilians and fighters to flee besieged Aleppo, as the president offered an amnesty to rebels who surrender.
Government forces have surrounded rebel-held districts in eastern Aleppo since July 17, sparking fears for at least 200,000 people who live there.
Residents have reported food shortages and spiralling prices in rebel districts since regime forces cut off the opposition’s main supply route into the northern city earlier this month.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said three humanitarian corridors were being opened “to aid civilians held hostage by terrorists and for fighters wishing to lay down their arms”.
He told Russian news agencies that a fourth corridor would be opened to the north of Aleppo for rebels to flee with their weapons.
Medical and food assistance would be provided along the routes for civilians and fighters who lay down their weapons, Shoigu said, adding the operation would get underway later Thursday.
President Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, issued a decree offering an amnesty to rebels who surrender over the next three months, the official SANA news agency reported.
“Everyone carrying arms… and sought by justice… is excluded from full punishment if they hand themselves in and lay down their weapons,” SANA reported.
Syria’s state broadcaster also announced “the opening of three passages to allow citizens out of eastern districts” of Aleppo.
But an AFP correspondent who went to see one of the corridors said it remained closed and saw no movement of residents nearby.
Regime planes on Thursday dropped flyers showing a map with the location of these humanitarian passages, he said, as
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