ALEPPO – As rebel group Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) withdrew from the Aleppo district of al-Kalasa, local residents looked for food and other supplies stormed their abandoned headquarters on Tuesday (December 13).
The group’s headquarters is in a school affiliated with the Syrian Ministry of Education.
Civilians took advantage of the withdrawal of the rebels following the advance of the Syrian army and its allies and went to the headquarters looking for food and other household items.
Local resident Hanan al Salem said the militants took much of the aid meant for civilians, leaving them with very little.
“They forbid us from everything. There is no milk, there is no cooking, there is no meat, there also aren’t any lemons. They forbid us from everything,” she said.
Another resident, Amer Saleem, accused the militants of keeping aid packages meant for civilians.
“They kept all these items here and there. They did not allow us to eat even a piece of bread. We died out of hunger and we used to sleep many evenings while feeling hungry,” he said.
Others complained about skyrocketing prices of basic foods with a kilogram of sugar being sold at 8,000 Syrian Pounds (about 16 US dollars).
Meanwhile, air strikes and heavy shelling in Aleppo on Wednesday (December 14) threatened to scupper a truce deal after a short-lived ceasefire was agreed on Tuesday with both sides accusing the other of breaching it first.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Syrian government forces of breaking a ceasefire deal in Aleppo on Wednesday (December 14), but said Turkey is still making efforts to create a corridor to evacuate people from the Syrian city.
“Implementation of the ceasefire may be the last hope for people in Aleppo. Therefore we invite all sides and the international community to support and comply with this ceasefire. The humanitarian corridor must be immediately opened without any obstructions or sabotage and innocent people must be allowed to leave Aleppo safely,” Erdogan said.
A ceasefire brokered on Tuesday (December 13) by Russia, Assad’s most powerful ally, and Turkey was intended to end years of fighting in the city, giving the Syrian leader his biggest victory in more than five years of war.
Erdogan also accused Assad’s government of committing war crimes and crime against humanity.
On Tuesday, the United Nations voiced deep concern about reports it had received of Syrian soldiers and allied Iraqi fighters summarily shooting dead 82 people in recaptured east Aleppo districts. It accused them of “slaughter”.
The Syrian army has denied carrying out killings or torture among those captured, and Russia said on Tuesday rebels had “kept over 100,000 people in east Aleppo as human shields”.