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Syrian army closes in on Aleppo, kills at least 20

Syrian army closes in on Aleppo, kills at least 20

The group said an artillery attack on a housing area on Wednesday morning, where those displaced by the fighting had sought refuge, killed at least 21 people.

The Syrian army and its allies made a sweeping advance across the northern part of besieged eastern Aleppo on Sunday night and Monday as rebels pulled back to a more defensible front line after losing control of a key district.

"Up to 16,000 people have been displaced, many into uncertain and precarious situations", he said. "There are no functioning hospitals left, and official food stocks are practically finished in eastern Aleppo", he said at an official briefing, in which he also condemned the situation in the government-held Western Aleppo, which is suffering a brutal offensive from opposition groups who are killing scores of civilians.

He said these rebel bombings had killed and injured civilians and displaced more than 20,000 in recent weeks.

World Food Program spokeswoman Bettina Luescher said "if access is granted", the agency could mobilize food in government-held western Aleppo or in Turkey to send to people trapped on its eastern side where Syrian government forces and allies are leading an offensive.

Pro-government forces have surged to their biggest victories in the shattered city for years in recent days.

Russian Federation is the most powerful ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and has since September 2015 carried out airstrikes to prop up the embattled leader.

The U.N. estimates that up to 16,000 civilians have fled the area after rebels lost all of the northern neighborhoods it controlled in eastern Aleppo to Syrian regime gains, according to a statement by its humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien on Tuesday.

Rights group Amnesty International urged Syrian authorities to protect civilians in recaptured areas. A brief breach by the rebels lasted almost two weeks amid fighting around the area. "Those Syrians had been serving as human shields for terrorists of all flavors in Aleppo", Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday.

"The Russians want to complete the operation before Trump takes power", an unnamed pro-regime official source told Reuters on Tuesday, noting that having finished capturing Aleppo before the US president-elect Donald Trump steps into office on January 20 would mitigate a probable unfavourable policy shift on Syria by the new White House administration.

Damascus and "its supporters, above all Russian Federation and Iran, bear the biggest responsibility" for civilian suffering in Aleppo, a spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry said on Monday, according to Reuters.

Numerous fleeing civilians headed to government and Kurdish-controlled areas while others were driven deeper into the remaining rebel-held areas.

"More than ever, there is an urgent need for a cessation of hostilities and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance", he said in a statement. O'Brien expresses concern for the civilians' fate, calling the situation in Aleppo "deeply alarming and chilling".

"There's intense fear of collective annihilation", said a medic who lives in the area and gave his name as Abu al-Abbas.

According to Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen news channel, the military forces discovered a mine-studded underground tunnel, leading to one of the churches located in a Christian quarter of Aleppo.

But as the situation descends into chaos and confusion, Taleb said she and her family are apprehensive to move into areas under government control.

France Tuesday officially requested an immediate and urgent United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the "humanitarian disaster" in the Syrian city of Aleppo.