Damascus Rejects UN Proposal to Grant Eastern Aleppo Autonomy

Author: The Associated Press

Posted November 20, 2016

“Foreign minister says Syria doesn’t accept leaving some 275,000 people in city as ‘hostages to 6,000 gunmen.’

A Syrian man evacuates children from a school reportedly hit by rebel rocket fire in the Furqan neighborhood of the government-held side of west Aleppo, on November 20, 2016. Credit: George Ourfalian, AFP

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-Muallem 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, 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.

Muallem added that Syria doesn’t accept leaving some 275,000 people in eastern Aleppo as “hostages to 6,000 gunmen.”

“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.

De Mistura warned in an interview with the U.K. newspaper The Guardian earlier this week that the government was chasing a “pyrrhic victory” in Aleppo if it 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.

Read more: http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.754165