MIDEAST >Turkey says Aleppo siege ‘unacceptable’

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A view shows what is believed to be the road that civilians would have to use to access one of the safe exit points opened for civilians to leave rebel-held areas, in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr, Syria July 29, 2016. REUTERS photo

A view shows what is believed to be the road that civilians would have to use to access one of the safe exit points opened for civilians to leave rebel-held areas, in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr, Syria July 29, 2016. REUTERS photo

The siege on Aleppo by Syrian regime forces, which a number of world powers have objected to, was “sorrowful and unacceptable,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said late July 28.

In a written statement, the ministry said eastern Aleppo had been under a full blockade for weeks, as the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its supporters’ conducted intense attacks.  

Pro-regime forces have surrounded Aleppo’s eastern districts since July 17, leaving an estimated 250,000 trapped without reliable access to food or medical aid.

“Airstrikes against Aleppo targeting civilians and civil infrastructure should be immediately stopped,” the ministry said.        

Forcing millions of civilians to live in inhumane conditions in Aleppo and other regions of Syria should be stopped immediately and the safety of people in those regions and access to humanitarian aid should also be provided under U.N. supervision, it added.    
   
Aid agencies also called on the Syrian government to end its encirclement of rebel-held east Aleppo.
U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, meanwhile, urged Russia to let the United Nations take charge of the corridors.

“Our suggestion is to Russia to actually leave the corridors being established at their initiative to us,” he said.
“How can you expect people to want to walk through a corridor, thousands of them, while there is shelling, bombing fighting?” 

France, meanwhile, said corridors out of the city were not “a credible response to the situation” and residents should be able to receive aid at home.

Russia, a key ally of al-Assad, on July 28 announced the opening of humanitarian passages for civilians and surrendering fighters seeking to exit the city’s rebel-held eastern neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the U.S.-led coalition targeting a village in northern Syria held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) killed 28 civilians, including seven children.
The observatory said aircraft belonging to the coalition struck the village of al-Ghandour, near Manbij, late on July 28.

The observatory’s chief, Rami Adurrahman, said another 13 people were killed in the strikes but that he could not say if they were ISIL fighters or civilians. Al-Ghandour is 24 kilometers northwest of the town of Manbij, a key hub in the extremist group’s Syria network and a supply route to ISIL’s de facto capital of Raqqa.

The U.S. military acknowledged July 28 that there may have been civilian deaths.

U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East, said it had “initiated an assessment following internal operational reporting that a strike today near Manbij, Syria may have resulted in civilian casualties.” 

The strikes came a day after the coalition opened a formal investigation to determine whether its air strikes last week near Manbij claimed civilian lives.

July/29/2016

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