‘Aleppo citizens are witnesses, rebels don’t want them out’
On Thursday the Russian defense minister Russia said the humanitarian pause around Aleppo, Syria, has been extended for another 24 hours. The decision was agreed with Damascus.
The humanitarian corridors, opened up by the Syrian army with Russian support, are coming under frequent shelling and sniper fire. Civilians, who had hoped for chance to leave to safety, now have to flee in panic.
It comes as no surprise that the rebels are continuing to fight and that there's shelling near a humanitarian corridor, says Catherine Shakdam, director of programs at the Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies
“We’re stuck in the same vicious cycle, where you have Western powers accusing Russia, Iran, and of course Damascus of not allowing civilians to run away from the conflict zone. But then at the same time, when there is a ceasefire agreed upon, and a humanitarian corridor is set up, then this happens. And those moderates are backed by Western powers,” she told RT.
According to Shakdam, it begs the question why this is happening.
“Whenever something is done to help civilians truly on the ground then this situation arises. Then people turn around, powers turn around, the media turn around, and then blame Russia, Iran and Damascus for trying to remedy the situation by firing back at those moderates trying to protect civilian population. It is insanity. It is always the same; it is almost a setup, where I feel very much certain officials and certain capitals are trying to create situations, where they could turn around and say: “We told you so – Russia is the bad guy; Russia is trying to hurt civilians!” And it makes no sense whatsoever… The same cannot be said of Western powers, because it has been proven time and time again on the ground by this simple fact that they are backing and supporting those so-called moderates, who are in fact terror radicals – they are the ones enabling them; they are the ones committing war crimes – not the other way around,” she said.
People in Aleppo are being held hostage by the rebel groups, said Karen Kwiatkowski, retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.
“These folks that want to live there, want to live in peace – are witnesses to a lot of things that have been going on in the last decade. They are witnesses to what is going on right now. They are possibly advocates for a policy that the rebels certainly don’t want to hear about. They’re maybe advocates to one side or the other. They may have an opinion,” she said. “Whatever they have to say, the rebels don’t want them out, they don’t want them to say it.”
The fighting and shelling is continuing because Islamist militants are encouraged by the way the Western media are covering the Aleppo crisis, says former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford.
"[They] believe that Western pressure will in the end force Russian and Syrian government forces to stop trying to liberate eastern Aleppo. Therefore they are doing everything in their power to prevent the civilians and some armed fighters ready to leave from doing so,” he told RT.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.