As Syrian Troops Close In On Rebels In Aleppo, Civilians Are In Need

Dec 13, 2016
Originally published on December 13, 2016 7:58 am
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We're going to shift our focus now to Syria, where government troops are closing in on the last rebel-held neighborhoods of the besieged city of Aleppo. And the situation for civilians is increasingly desperate; so are some of the efforts to stop the bloodshed there. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that a French parliamentary delegation is now making an unlikely call for Western troops to be used to secure a kind of humanitarian corridor to get civilians out.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: French Congressman Herve Mariton is part of the bipartisan delegation that traveled to Syria in a desperate last attempt to do something to save the people of east Aleppo. Speaking to NPR on the phone from the Turkish-Syrian border, he says Russia's relentless bombing is trapping tens of thousands of civilians in increasingly dire conditions.

HERVE MARITON: The military battle is lost. The territory controlled by the people from Aleppo east is getting smaller and smaller, but the population then is denser and denser.

BEARDSLEY: Mariton says it wouldn't take much to prevent a massacre, but the West must act immediately.

MARITON: A five-kilometer corridor with security enforced with our troops - that means French, Europeans, even Americans, if need be - for a 24-hour period to help evacuate the people from Aleppo east.

BEARDSLEY: The United Nations is ready to go, says Mariton. It just needs guarantees of safe passage.

MARITON: They've got the ambulances nearby, the coaches, all the organization necessary, but the U.N. is - it's unable of doing anything, politically speaking, when the Russians say no.

BEARDSLEY: Talks in Geneva over the weekend failed to convince the Russians to pause their bombardment of the city and let civilians leave.

MARITON: The Russians want an absolute victory and an absolute defeat from the people of Aleppo east.

BEARDSLEY: But with no Western government ready to commit troops or act to stop the bombing, the French delegation's appeal is little more than a symbolic gesture to show the people of east Aleppo that they haven't been completely forgotten. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.