Syrian military forces sent text messages to the phones of civilians living in the opposition-held areas in the city of Aleppo promising safe passage to anyone who wishes to leave, according to Syrian state media Tuesday.
The Syrian military also encouraged civilians to push “mercenaries” out of Aleppo, referring to the various rebel groups that control the eastern portion of the city. Themessages included calls for armed rebel groups to surrender. Syrian President Bashar Assad has allegedly offered universal amnesty to any so-called “terrorists” willing to surrender to the military, according to Syria’s SANA state-media. The Syrian government often refers to the various Syrian rebel groups as terrorists or mercenaries.
Aleppo has been under complete siege since Syrian military forces cut off Castello Road, the last rebel supply route into the city, in early July. Assad’s forces, with help of Russian and Iranian allies, have attempted to bomb-out the opposition, targeting hospitals and cutting off humanitarian aid. Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city, has been divided between rebel groups and forces loyal to Assad since the civil war began five years ago. Despite years of death and destruction, approximately 300,000 civilians are believed to still be in the city.
The most recent United Nations estimates claim that as many as 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war, most of whom are civilians. A group of 50 currently serving U.S. diplomats sent a memo to the White House June 16 criticizing President Barack Obama for allowing the massive casualties and urging he authorize limited military action to prevent further deaths.
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