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Aleppo rebels issue warning to civilians

The last-ditch effort to take the city once and for all has restarted in earnest. A three-day ceasefire failed to provide aid or allow civilians to evacuate.

Syrien Aleppo Kinder demonstrieren auf Straße (picture-alliance/dpa)

Syrian kids walk near the Bustan Al-Quasr humanitarian corridor on the border separating eastern and western Aleppo

Rebels and government troops resumed fighting Sunday morning after a three-day ceasefire failed to provide civilians a way out of the city. The leading moderate rebel coalition warned all non-combatants to stay away from government positions as they redoubled their attack.

Fighting broke out in the city's southern neighborhoods as pro-Damascus troops also laid siege to the key village of Khan Touman, which lies along the highway connecting Aleppo and Syria's other major cities. The town has been held by al-Qaeda linked insurgents since last May.

A TV channel run by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which backs the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, broadcast footage of government tanks taking heavy fire as they rolled through the countryside just outside Aleppo.

Siege brings devastation to civilians

Once Syria's second city, Aleppo has become the focal point of a last-ditch effort on all sides to bring a decisive end to the country's protracted and asymmetrical conflict. This has led to a devastating situation for civilians, who, especially in the east, have been blocked on all sides by fighting and are not only unable to evacuate, but are also hindered from getting much-needed humanitarian aid. This crisis has been compounded by Russian airstrikes and government attacks that have seemingly targeted aid convoys.

It was because of this situation that Moscow announced a three-day cessation of hostilities to begin on Thursday. The Syrian regime had set up eight corridors to allow rebels and civilians to evacuate the city, but the United Nations said they were not provided with the proper safety guarantees to either carry out an evacuation or provide aid supplies.

Russia defended its resumption of airstrikes on Saturday, saying that the Kremlin was determined to rid ally Syria of "terrorists."

"Some countries are trying to play with the devil and use terrorists to get rid of [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad, and some just say thoughtlessly that Assad must leave," said government spokesman Dmitry Peskov. "If Damascus falls and terrorists take hold there, there will be no political settlement then."

The siege of Aleppo has already claimed the lives of some 500 civilians in just the past month.

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Syria: Life goes on underground for Damascus suburb residents

es/jlw (AP, AFP)

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