30,000 people evacuate rebel-held areas in Syria's Aleppo

DAMASCUS, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- At least 30,000 people have fled rebel-held areas in the northern city of Aleppo over the past few days, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Thursday.

The people fled rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo to the government-controlled parts west of the city, while countless others are expected to have escaped in other directions, said the ICRC in a statement.

The statement said the civilians must be guaranteed protection and safe passage.

"We appeal to all sides to ensure this. We at the ICRC are ready to help, but it is up to those who are involved in the fighting to protect civilians," it added.

This comes as the Syrian government forces continued to advance Thursday on rebel-held areas in Aleppo city in northern Syria.

The Syrian army completely recaptured the Sakan Shababi, or youth housing units, in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, a military source told Xinhua.

This came a day after the army captured the neighborhood of Sheikh Saed, which was the gate for rebel-held areas in the southern part of eastern Aleppo.

Since the launch of a wide-scale offensive earlier this week, the Syrian army has taken control of over 15 neighborhoods, or almost half of the rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo, said al-Watan newspaper.

The newspaper said Sheikh Saed constitutes the first defense line for rebels in the southern part of eastern Aleppo.

It added that the capture of the neighborhood opened the way for the Syrian army to advance to other key areas, such as the Sukari neighborhood, one of the largest rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo.

The Syrian army says it will press on with the operation until all rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo are recaptured. The rebels captured eastern Aleppo in 2012, and the government forces recently imposed a siege on that area before unleashing a broad offensive for its recapture.

Humanitarian organizations sounded the alarm about the situation of 250,000 people living in eastern Aleppo, with the government promising to fix the situation of those relocated in government-controlled areas.

[ Editor: meng ]


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