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Executive Summary for December 14th

We review key events in Syria, including the U.N. accusing pro-government forces of shooting civilians in their homes in Aleppo, the delay of a Turkish/Russian-negotiated Aleppo cease-fire and a new report detailing the numbers of dead and disappeared in Syria.

Published on Dec. 14, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Civilians Shot on the Spot in Aleppo, U.N. Says

Forces loyal to the Syrian government killed at least 82 civilians on Tuesday, including 11 women and 13 children, shooting them on the spot on the streets and inside their homes, according to the United Nations, BBC News reported.

“Yesterday evening, we received further deeply disturbing reports that numerous bodies were lying on the streets,” said Rupert Colville, U.N. human rights office spokesman. “The reports we had are of people being shot in the street trying to flee and shot in their homes. There could be many more.”

The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF quoted a doctor in Aleppo as saying there were more than 100 unaccompanied children trapped in a building that was under heavy attack.

Delays in Evacuation Planned by Turkey, Russia, as Government Takes Control of Aleppo

Rebel defenses in eastern Aleppo collapsed on Tuesday, as government and allied forces seized control of remaining neighborhoods in the war-torn city, Reuters reported.

“The Syrian government has established control over east Aleppo,” said Russia’s U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin late Tuesday night.

Rebels agreed to a cease-fire that would allow them to leave Aleppo with their light weapons on Wednesday for opposition-held areas west of Aleppo, starting at dawn.

The cease-fire was negotiated by Turkey and Russia, who have supported opposing sides in the Syrian conflict. The U.S. was not included in the negotiations.

Civilians would be evacuated first, followed by rebels, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu told Al Jazeera.

Thousands of civilians packed their belongings while waiting for the expected buses to evacuate them.

“They would move toward Idlib, according to the plan,” Muftuoglu said. “There is no plan to take them into Turkey.”

Later on Tuesday, Turkish deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek said Turkey is planning a new tent city to house “80,000 people fleeing eastern Aleppo.” It was not clear whether the tent city would be inside Syria or Turkey.

Evacuations were delayed and government forces renewed shelling of eastern Aleppo this morning, Al Jazeera reported. The Russian defense ministry claimed rebel groups broke the cease-fire earlier this morning.

Rebel officials told Reuters the cease-fire remained in place despite the delay in the plan to evacuate.

“What is stopping the agreement presently is Iranian obstinacy,” a rebel commander with the Nour al-Din al-Zinki group told Reuters. Iran, a key ally of the Syrian government, was not included in the cease-fire negotiations.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced from eastern Aleppo in recent weeks under an intense government ground and air offensive. Nearly 6,000 men from eastern Aleppo were detained by the Syrian military for “falling behind the mandatory service” and forced to join the ranks of government forces, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitor.

Estimated 450,000 Dead, 2 Million Injured in Syria Since March 2011

An estimated 450,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011, according to a new report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

The SOHR has documented 312,001 dead according to official figures, but estimates 450,000 to be a more realistic total because many armed groups are not open about their casualties.

In 69 months of conflict, more than 2 million people have been injured and 15,948 children killed. SOHR documented the deaths of 14,638 detainees in government prisons, due to torture or dire conditions.

The report also details the documented and estimated deaths for different local and foreign fighting groups operating in the Syrian war, now in its sixth year.


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