UN ‘deeply concerned’ by reports of continued fighting in Syria’s Aleppo

The United Nations is "deeply concerned" by reports of fighting in Aleppo in north Syria on Wednesday, despite the announcement of a ceasefire agreement on Tuesday night, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here.

"Any continued fighting leaves thousands of civilians in the direct line of fire," Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here. "The safety and security of tens of thousands of men, women and children still trapped in eastern Aleppo remains precarious."

"We urgently call for a pause in fighting to allow people who wish to safely leave besieged eastern Aleppo for a destination of their choice," he said. "The parties must also ensure that those who have surrendered or been captured are treated humanely and in line with international law."

Tens of thousands of Syrian men, women and children have managed to leave eastern Aleppo in recent days. UN teams are on the ground in Aleppo and responding to the needs of those displaced where we have access.

"We stand ready to step up our support in all parts of Aleppo, but it is critical that the UN obtains approval to go anywhere in Aleppo where people are in need of urgent protection and humanitarian assistance," he said.

Also on Wednesday, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, said that any evacuation of the civilians in eastern Aleppo must be carried out in compliance with international law.

The Syrian government has a clear responsibility to ensure its people are safe, and the UN human rights chief said that is palpably failing to take this opportunity to do so.

In his remarks to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that his deepest regret on leaving office is the continuing nightmare in Syria.

He once again pleaded with Council members to cooperate and fulfil their collective responsibility to protect Syrian civilians.

Fighting between forces allied with the Syrian government and the opposition in eastern Aleppo "has stopped" and Damascus re-established control, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the UN Security Council here Tuesday.

However, the truce to evacuate rebels from the few remaining rebel-held areas in Aleppo City was broken on Wednesday, sources in Aleppo told Xinhua.

Both warring sides exchanged mortar fire, hours following an anticipated evacuation of rebels from areas they still held in southeastern Aleppo was delayed for unknown reasons, sources said, on condition of anonymity.

The renewed shelling comes after a quiet night in Aleppo, as a truce went into effect for the evacuation process to take place at dawn on Wednesday.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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