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Syrian government refuses UN truce terms for Aleppo

Assad regime turns down proposal that would grant autonomy to rebel-held areas in bid to end violence in embattled city

Smoke billows in the government-held side of west Aleppo, on November 20, 2016, following reported rocket fire by the opposition forces that hold the eastern part of the city. (AFP PHOTO/GEORGE OURFALIAN)
Smoke billows in the government-held side of west Aleppo, on November 20, 2016, following reported rocket fire by the opposition forces that hold the eastern part of the city. (AFP PHOTO/GEORGE OURFALIAN)

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) — The Syrian government on Sunday refused a UN proposal to grant the eastern districts of Aleppo autonomy as part of an approach to restore calm to the war-torn city.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said the state’s institutions “must be restored” to the city once militants have been expelled from the opposition-controlled eastern districts.

Speaking following a meeting with the UN’s Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, al-Muallem gave no indication his government would ease its assault on Aleppo’s eastern districts in a campaign that, as of Saturday, has left all hospitals serving the enclave out of service.

Al-Moallem added that Syria doesn’t accept leaving some 275,000 people in east Aleppo as “hostages to 6,000 gunmen.”

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura arrives (L) arrives for a meeting with the Syrian Foreign Minister in the capital Damascus, on November 20, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA)
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura arrives (L) arrives for a meeting with the Syrian Foreign Minister in the capital Damascus, on November 20, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA)

“We agreed on the need that terrorists should get out of east Aleppo to end the suffering of the civilians in the city,” he said.

De Mistura did not make any remarks following the meeting.

At least eight children were killed in Aleppo Sunday when rockets struck a school in the contested city’s government-run quarters, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported.

Syrian state news reported a teacher was also killed in the barrage that struck the al-Furqan school near the Sabeel neighborhood in Aleppo.

The Observatory said at least 37 civilians have been killed since mid-day Saturday by the government’s artillery and aerial blitz on the besieged eastern enclave, where 275,000 people have been trapped with dwindling food supplies since July, according to UN estimates.

A Syrian civil defense volunteer, known as the White Helmets, carries an injured man on November 19, 2016 following a reported air strike on Aleppo's rebel-held neighbourhood of Bab al-Nayrab. (AFP PHOTO/AMEER ALHALBI)
A Syrian civil defense volunteer, known as the White Helmets, carries an injured man on November 19, 2016 following a reported air strike on Aleppo’s rebel-held neighbourhood of Bab al-Nayrab. (AFP PHOTO/AMEER ALHALBI)

De Mistura warned in an interview with the UK newspaper The Guardian earlier this week that the government was chasing a “pyrrhic victory” in Aleppo if the government does not arrive at a political settlement with the opposition

He warned the military’s unrestrained approach would drive more moderate rebels into the ranks of the Islamic State group.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press

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