As the world watches the unfolding evacuation of Aleppo, US Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed moral outrage, accusing President Bashar al Assad and his forces of ‘‘carrying out nothing short of a massacre’‘ in the war-torn city.
Speaking from Washington, Kerry also accused Assad’s allies, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, of aiding and abetting in the slaughter.
“The Assad regime is actually carrying out nothing short of a massacre. And we have witnessed indiscriminate slaughter, not accidents of war, not collateral damage, but frankly purposeful, a cynical policy of terrorising civilians.”
While Kerry urged the Syrian leadership to make a strategic decision and return to peace talks in Geneva, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Thursday that Turkey, which had helped broker the evacuation of Aleppo, was ready to receive its most vulnerable civilians.
Speaking in Ankara during talks with Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor, Erdogan said: “If necessary, we will take some part of those who have left and bring them to Turkey, children, the elderly, those who are really in difficult conditions and place them in camps and houses, if they are available. We will provide them with a peaceful environment.”
The UN’s peace envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, says around 50,000 people still remain in eastern Aleppo.
Just under a third of those are said to include rebel fighters and their family members.