More than 3,000 civilians have left the eastern part of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo in the last 24 hours, the Russian Center for Reconciliation said. It later reported that about 40 percent of the militant-held part of the city has been liberated.
Some 3,179 people, including 1,519 children – among them 138 newborn babies – have left Eastern Aleppo through the ‘humanitarian corridors’ set up by Syrian government forces, Russian Reconciliation Center said on Monday.
The center reported that 12 neighborhoods, comprising roughly 40 percent of the territory previously controlled by the militants, have been cleared.
Earlier on Monday, the center reported that to date 10 neighborhoods and more than 3,000 buildings have been cleared of Al-Nusra Front militants. The militants have also been pushed out of al-Qadisiyah, a key Aleppo district.
All civilians are being cared for in aid camps where they receive medical treatment, food and sanitation.
The center said it deployed additional 150 field kitchens to distribute hot meals among civilians fleeing the embattled city.
More than 100 militants laid down their arms and left eastern Aleppo through the special corridors, the statement said.
Despite joint humanitarian efforts undertaken by the Syrian government and Russia, thousands of civilians are still kept in the eastern part of the city by militants. To minimize damage to the civilian population, the Russian and Syrian militaries suspended airstrikes and set up 'humanitarian corridors' for both non-combatants and militants willing to leave the area.
However, the corridors are vulnerable to militant small arms fire and shelling, which complicates the evacuation of civilians.
RT's Lizzie Phelan, reporting from Syria, said the government army's advance in the eastern part of Aleppo “has enabled civilians to leave the area,” and that there are thousands of people desperate to flee. Those who managed to escape told RT crew the militants deprived them of all means to survive, including food and water.
“The militants are lying, they are holding us there, even now they are holding families [in the area]. They don't let people go,” one man said.
“Every time we tried to flee they caught us and turned us back,” a young woman added.
In militants-held areas, shooting and death threats have become a common method to prevent people from fleeing.
“We wanted to leave, but they stopped us from doing so. They threatened to kill us, but we tried again and again. Finally, we escaped,” another Aleppo resident said.
Currently, the Syrian Army is continuing their large-scale offensive in eastern Aleppo, targeting Al-Nusra Front and other radical militants still controlling the area. The troops have already established control over important blocks and districts in the eastern part of the city.