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Middle East

France calls for UN Security Council meeting over Aleppo onslaught

France's foreign minister has urged an end to hostilities to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged city. Up to 16,000 people have been displaced by the latest violence in rebel-held Aleppo, according to UN figures.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Tuesday called for an immediate convening of the UN Security Council to discuss the deteriorating situation in Aleppo after the Syrian regime captured one-third of the city's rebel-held eastern districts, according to monitors.

"More than ever before, we need to urgently put in place means to end the hostilities and to allow humanitarian aid to get through unhindered," the minister said in a statement.

The Syrian regime has made significant gains since last week, capturing large swathes of eastern Aleppo held by rebels since 2012.

"The rebels have lost at least 30 percent of the territory they once controlled in Aleppo," said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an independent war monitor that uses a nationwide network of informants.

The Russian defense ministry on Tuesday claimed that half of the rebel-held areas of Aleppo has been cleared of "militants," reported Russian news agency Interfax.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched a major offensive in September to capture eastern Aleppo, which would mark the regime's largest victory since the conflict erupted more than five years ago.

Watch video 02:08

Terrified civilians flee eastern Aleppo (30.11.2016)

Sanctions

The UN has warned both sides of the conflict, including Assad's key ally Russia, that war crimes may have been committed during the Aleppo campaign.

German lawmakers on Monday called on Western nations to respond to the violent campaign in Aleppo, including placing sanctions against Syrians and Russians involved in the onslaught.

"It is not acceptable that those responsible for war crimes fly to Munich or Paris to do their Christmas shopping while women and children are dying in Syria," the lawmakers said in a statement.

In Aleppo, up to 16,000 people have been displaced in the past week due to the latest campaign to recapture rebel-held territory.

More than 300,000 people have been killed and half the population displaced since the conflict erupted in 2011, when government forces launched a vicious crackdown against peaceful protesters calling for Assad to step down.

ls/kms (Reuters, AFP)

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