Syrian government forces are expressing high hopes that they may be able to take back control of Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria but this may be causing more civilian casualties caught in the crossfire.
This was confirmed late Monday, according to the New York Times, as Syrian regime troops under President Bashar al Assad are advancing on to the last remaining rebel strongholds in east Aleppo. The development was also confirmed by Lt. Gen. Zaid al- Saleh, head of the Syrian government's Aleppo security committee.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki- moon also expressed concerns regarding 'vicious atrocities' being committed in the war-torn areas in Aleppo. This may have dispelled previous reports that there was an 'informal' ceasefire between the two sides to allow civilians to flee unharmed and seek refuge.
"The secretary-general is alarmed over reports of atrocities against a large number of civilians, including women and children, in recent hours in Aleppo," says Stephane Dujarric, who is the spokesperson for SecGen Ban.
Security officials from humanitarian groups monitoring the war and providing support for civilians, claimed there were reports that there are plants to hold a ceasefire to allow safe passage for civilians where there are still around 50,000 trapped in the battle zones, according to BBC.
Russia, one of the staunch allies of the Syrian forces, rejected the idea of having pauses in the shelling of rebel strongholds to allow children and women, as well as those injured to evacuate to refugee camps or even provided humanitarian care or attention. Aside from Russia, the Syrian civil war is also fought by Iranians backing the government troops under Assad.
Ban is urging on all sides to ensure the protection of civilians. UN Humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland also points out that both Syria and Russia are accountable for civilian atrocities committed by government troops and militia forces.
The Syrian civil war has already displaced and taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the last four years, after rebel fighters took siege of Aleppo. Aleppo is the second largest city in Syria and is the business and industrial hub in Syria.
The Syrian civil war also heightened tensions between Russia and the United States, who takes sides with the rebel forces. This was also believed to be straining Russia-US relations, especially when staking its interests in the Middle East and fuelling rumors that both superpowers are having heightened tensions similar to the Cold War in the 1960's.