Syrian group: Rebels preventing refugees from fleeing Aleppo



A Syrian monitoring group alleged Tuesday that rebels are preventing dozens of families from fleeing eastern Aleppo as Russian-backed government forces intensify their bombardment of the besieged quarter.

Such claims are difficult to verify and often distorted owing to the propaganda value of the matter. 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.

Opposition outlets on the other hand want to show that civilians will never accept returning to the government's heavy-handed rule. Russia has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad with vast military support as he fights to put down an uprising that is approaching its sixth year. Over 300,000 people have been killed in the raging war.

A resident of Aleppo's frontline Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood corroborated the report by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, which maintains a network of contacts among both government and anti-government institutions. "At that point at night, (the agitators) started to flame at the intersection" to avert entry, al-Jasim said. He said in regards to fifty families were holding up to cross.

The self-sufficient Kurdish safeguard drives, the YPG, have guaranteed lodging in Sheik Maqsoud to any families who cross, or secure entry on to restriction held Azaz or Kurdish-held Afrin, two towns north of Aleppo, as per the al-Jasim.

The Observatory reported 100 families are holding up to cross, while Ahmad Hiso Araj, a political authority for the YPG-adjusted Syrian Democratic Forces, said 250 regular folks were set up to go. He said they were speaking with their relatives in Sheik Maqsoud to clear Bustan al-Basha.

Hajj Mohammed al-Jasim told The Associated Press his uncles' families were trying to cross from the Bustan al-Basha neighborhood in the east to the predominantly Kurdish enclave of Sheikh Maqsoud.

"They've wanted to cross for a while because the circumstances have become very difficult," said al-Jasim, who confirmed his location near the al-Riz crossing via phone location services.

He said his relatives told him they were prepared to cross during the day but were advised by three rebel groups to wait until dark.