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UN says 16,000 have fled east Aleppo, calls situation ‘chilling’

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ALEPPO, Syria: Up to 16,000 people have been displaced in Syria’s Aleppo by intense attacks on the rebel-held eastern part of the city, the United Nations humanitarian chief and relief coordinator Stephen O’Brien said on Tuesday, citing initial reports.

The area had no functioning hospitals left, food stocks were nearly exhausted and it was likely that thousands more people would flee their homes if fighting persisted in the coming days, he said in an emailed statement.

Meanwhile, France on Tuesday called for an “immediate” UN Security Council meeting on Aleppo to tackle the “humanitarian disaster” in the besieged Syrian city.

“More than ever, there is an urgent need for a cessation of hostilities and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance”, Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a statement on Aleppo, where tens of thousands of civilians are trapped in the fighting between government troops and rebels.

The call came as the Syrian army advanced deep inside east Aleppo, taking several neighbourhoods from the opposition in an onslaught to recapture the entire city.

The regime gains have prompted an exodus of thousands of desperate civilians, some fleeing to districts held by the government or Kurdish forces, others heading south into areas still under opposition control. – Agencies

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