ALEPPO, Syria, Civilians in the rebel-held portions of Aleppo are enduring a “living hell” and the hospitals there have been all but obliterated, the United Nations warned Sunday as bomb attacks continued to hit the city.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien said in a statement that civilians in Aleppo are being subjected to “a level of savagery that no human should have to endure,” NBC News reported.
“We are in a race against time to protect and save civilians in eastern Aleppo city,” he said. “They need our urgent action to bring an end to their living hell.”
O’Brien said the indiscriminate bombing and shelling “in a shocking and unrelenting manner, killing and maining” residents is unprecedented.
He urged the warring parties to allow hundreds who need medical care to evacuate,BBC reported.
Overnight, rebel-held front line areas were subjected to dozens of Russian air strikes, witnesses said, which allowed government troops to gain ground in the northern part of Aleppo.
The Syrian army, just hours later, offered safe passage to rebel fighters if they would evacuate eastern Aleppo.
“The army high command calls all armed fighters in the eastern neighbourhood of Aleppo to leave these neighborhoods and let civilian residents live their normal lives,” the army said a statement, announced by state news agency Sana on Sunday. The Russian and Syrian military leaderships will guarantee safe passage for the fighters and will give them aid as necessary.”
The Syrian army, which is supported by Russian air power and Iran-backed militias, began its offensive to take control of the divided city after a week-long ceasefire broke down in September.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the military and its allies advanced south from the Handarate refugee camp north of Aleppo, which it took earlier in the week.
The largest trauma and intensive care center in eastern Aleppo was badly damaged by air strikes Saturday and forced to close. Two patients were killed.
The Syrian American Medical Society said the hospital has been hit seven times since July. Three of those attacks took place this week.
By Yvette C. Hammett