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Putin Orders Mobile Hospitals Sent To Aleppo, As Thousands Flee

  • RFE/RL

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Defense and Emergency Situations ministries to send mobile hospitals to the Syrian city of Aleppo as soon as possible.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on November 29 that Putin has ordered the military to provide "medical assistance to residents of the city and nearby communities."

Russia has been providing military support to the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as they attempt to retake the city from antigovernment rebels.

Syrian relief organizations have accused the government and Russia of targeting medical facilities in the city.

Earlier the same day, United Nations humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien warned of the "deeply alarming and chilling situation" in Aleppo.

"There are no functioning hospitals left and official food stocks are practically finished," he said.

He said that as many as 16,000 civilians have been displaced by the fighting in the last few days, "many into uncertain and precarious situations."

He added that about 20,000 people have been displaced by fighting in the western part of the city over the last month.

France has called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council to discuss the humanitarian crisis in the city, where about 250,000 civilians remain.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on November 29 that in view of intense fighting in the area and the growing humanitarian disaster, "We need to urgently put into place the means to end the hostilities."

Thousands of civilians have streamed out of the besieged city as Syrian government forces recaptured all of the rebel-held northern districts, dealing a major blow to insurgent fighters.

The victory, announced on November 28 on Syrian state television, effectively divided the remaining rebel-held eastern districts into two separate areas.

The capture of eastern Aleppo would be a major strategic victory for the regime and a potentially devastating blow to Syria's rebels, who seized the area in 2012.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels have lost about one-third of the territory in eastern Aleppo they had controlled just a few days ago.

"It is the biggest defeat for the opposition in Aleppo since 2012," observatory head Rami Abdulrahman said.

Syrian forces have pressed their offensive in Aleppo, backed by devastating air strikes from regime jets and those of its main backer, Russia.

Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, AP, Reuters, and Interfax
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