Syrian Group: Rebels Preventing Refugees From Fleeing Aleppo

Syrian president Bashar Assad centre right meets a Russian delegation in Damascus

The offensive has killed at least 143 civilians in the city's east, among them 19 children, and more than 375 in all of Aleppo province. Syrian and Russian state media maintain that rebels are holding the enclave's 275,000 remaining inhabitants hostage to use as human shields, even as the government's air force pounds the east's hospitals and first responder groups.

Recapturing east Aleppo would be the government's biggest victory yet in Syria's five-year conflict and deal a potentially decisive blow to the opposition.

Turkey has recently stepped up its support to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels in a push aimed at stripping the Islamic State (IS) group on the key city of al-Baab in the northern countryside of Aleppo and to dislodge the Kurdish-led militia from the town of Manbej in northern Aleppo.

But the Prime Minister said decisions over which countries host sporting events are not in the Government's remit, adding the United Kingdom is working with allies to try and stop the "appalling atrocities" in Aleppo.

The city was once the country's economic powerhouse, but it has been ravaged by the war that has killed 300,000 people since it began with anti-government protests in March 2011. Medical officials said some of the barrel bombs dropped by the government appeared to contain chlorine gas.

A week into the latest round of fighting for the city, the Syrian regime controls around a third of the district, the Observatory said.

The renewed fighting comes amid global concern for the fate of more than 250,000 civilians trapped in besieged rebel-held areas of the northern city.

The renewed bloodshed has stoked worldwide concern, though there has been little sign so far of a plan to halt it.

The army stressed that the Syrian government allows the evacuation of the wounded and ill out of eastern Aleppo toward the government-controlled part, west of Aleppo, through passageways the government has previously identified.

He said that moves by Syria to escalate the military conflict could have tragic consequences for 275,000 civilians still in the eastern part of Aleppo, and drew parallels to an 87-day siege of Vukovar, Croatia by Serbian forces in 1991. In remarks to the Security Council, he said almost one million Syrians were living under blockade.

He said: "You can't send weaponry in any more, all the supply roads are cut, and you won't intervene from the air because of the costs and the risks".

Military analysts say the Syrian army's pre-war numbers were about 300,000 personnel, but its current size after nearly six years of conflict is not known.

"What we want to see is an agreement for a political transition to a Syria without president Assad". We call upon those responsible for conducting the war to respect the lives of all civilians and to work unceasingly for a peace based on justice.

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