The United Nations (UN) has warned that millions of people could be trapped in Syria’s strategic northwestern city of Aleppo as government forces and rebel militants are gearing up for a decisive battle for the city.
The UN’s resident and humanitarian coordinator in Syria, Yacoub el Hillo, and the UN regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, Kevin Kennedy, said in a statement released on Monday that two million residents of Aleppo are living in fear of besiegement.
The city is located some 355 kilometers (220 miles) north of the capital, Damascus.
The pair also demanded a “humanitarian pause” in the fierce clashes, stating, “The UN stands ready to assist the civilian population of Aleppo, a city now united in its suffering.”
The statement added, “At a minimum, the UN requires a full-fledged ceasefire or weekly 48-hour humanitarian pauses to reach the millions of people in need throughout Aleppo and replenish the food and medicine stocks, which are running dangerously low.”
The UN statement came on the same day that the head of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, said some 2,000 fighters have joined the ranks of government troops in Aleppo.
Pro-government Arabic-language al-Watan daily reported that the army had received “the necessary military reinforcements to launch the battle,” adding, “A crucial attack on the terrorists was imminent… and inevitable.”
Meanwhile, the foreign-backed militants in Aleppo are seeking assistance from the rebel militants operating in other parts of Syria.
Syrian military sources say scores of rebel fighters have been killed and many others sustained injuries as a result of heavy fighting in several neighborhoods of Aleppo over the past few days.
A large number of vehicles as well as considerable volumes of ammunition belonging to Takfiri militants have also been destroyed.
Syria has been gripped by a vicious civil war since March 2011. The United Nations (UN)’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
Back in 2014, the UN said it would no more update its official death toll for Syria because it could not verify the figures that it received from various sources.