December 13, 2016 / 11:03 AM / 8 months ago

Aleppo rebel commander says U.S., Turkey must save civilians

Free Syrian Army fighters gather in a rebel-held area of Aleppo, Syria December 12, 2016.Abdalrhman Ismail

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The commander of a rebel group in Aleppo is urging the United States and Turkey to move quickly to save civilians in what remains of the opposition's eastern Aleppo enclave from an assault by the government and its allies.

The commander of the Jabha Shamiya group also told Reuters on Tuesday that the rebels' situation on the frontlines had improved in the past hours. The main problem was continued government bombardment of civilians in the "narrow area" still held by rebels, he said.

"My message is that they must take a decision to save these people who are stuck here, these civilians, these children," Abu Ali Saqour told Reuters, the sound of explosions audible in the background as he spoke via Whatsapp from eastern Aleppo.

"No state has helped this people in any way, my message to the world is to get these people out of this disaster-stricken city, at least the civilians," he said, singling out the United States and Turkey as governments with the power to do something.

"Any state with power in its hands must take a decision as soon as possible to evacuate these people," he said.

The Jabha Shamiya rebel group is fighting in Aleppo under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, and is one of the factions that has received support from states opposed to Assad, including Turkey.

On the frontlines, he said "the situation is, God willing, good", describing the new positions taken up by the fighters as solid and steadfast. "The situation on the fronts is much better," he said. But bombardment was continuing.

"The bombardment is not on the frontlines, the greater burden of the bombardment is on the civilians, and this is what is causing a burden on us," he said.

Reporting by Tom Perry

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