A few days ago, Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad started a relentless attack to seize control of Eastern Aleppo from armed rebels. His army renewed its call for rebels to stop using civilians as shields. Al-Assad has achieved unprecedented progress in taking control of Aleppo since the war began about six years ago.
The Syrian army, affiliated to Al-Assad, is crawling forward in Aleppo and gaining ground, putting pressure not only on the rebels, who are notably losing in the afflicted city, but also on the civilians who are under siege and can find no suitable refuge.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), about 20,000 civilians have fled their homes in the past three days since Al-Assad and his allies started their operations. Since August, about 60,000 civilians fled their homes to escape war. They seek refuge in schools, mosques, and damaged buildings. It is estimated that about 250,000 civilians are now living under fire in Aleppo and have no communication with the outside world or humanitarian aid.
While Aleppo, the second city of Syria, is under siege, Syrian media reported on Wednesday that Israeli jets fired two missiles towards the outskirts of Damascus. The attack did not cause any casualties and the target remains unknown
Countries including the United States, France, and Saudi Arabia, among others, seem to be providing the rebels with little, if any assistance at all, a rebel official told Reuters. In fact, Russia has blocked and hindered all attempts and resolutions filed by the US and France in the United Nations security council to implement their vision in Syria.
Russian defence minister Igor Sergeyev said on Tuesday that the western countries backing the rebels did not intend to provide protection to about 80,000 civilians in Aleppo. He added that the rebels are using them as shields.
Meanwhile, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that the Turkish army is on Syrian land to help end the ruling of Al-Assad, according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily. He added that Turkey did not enter for any reason except to put an end to this tyrant.
France had called for an urgent session in the security council to discuss the ongoing situation in Syria that evolved over the past few days.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced earlier this month in an interview that Egypt supports the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Al-Sisi’s statement was the first explicit indication of Egypt’s stance on the situation in Syria. Since the turmoil began in Syria, Egypt has said it respects the desire of the Syrian people and advocates for a political solution. However, with this implicit support, Al-Sisi has sided with Al-Assad.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s bilateral relations are strained over their different stances on the situation in Syria; while Saudi is backing the rebels, Al-Sisi has announced his unconditional support of the Syrian regime.
A senior official in the pro-Damascus military alliance told Reuters that Al-Assad is planning to take control of Aleppo before US president-elect Donald Trump takes office on 20 January 2017.
Trump’s victory may change the stance of the US on Al-Assad—during his campaign, Trump said he may give control to Russia in Syria to fight the Islamic State.
According to ICRC, the war in Syria that started in 2011 during the Arab Spring has resulted in the death of about 250,000 civilians, 1.5 million people have been injured, and 4.5 millions live in cities that are under siege and in hard-to-reach areas.