Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad’s top cleric has issued a chilling fatwa calling for the ‘extermination’ of civilians in the city of Aleppo.
His bloodthirsty demand came after air strikes and shelling have caused ‘daily massacres’ in the besieged rebel stronghold.
The fall of Aleppo would strike a devastating blow against those opposed to Assad in Syria’s five-year civil war.
The fatwa was passed by the tyrant’s top Alawite cleric, Ahmad Badr al-Hassoun, against ordinary Syrians living in the eastern parts of Aleppo which is under the control of opposition forces.
He said: ‘I call upon the Syrian Army to show us its rage and I also call upon our leader to show us their rage in exterminating those criminals.’
Bombs and missiles have rained down on residential areas for nearly 10 days, killing more than 250 people including at least 40 children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Some 30 airstrikes took place on Saturday, although there was less shelling reported yesterday.
The Kremlin, which backs Assad, has rejected calls to rein in its ally although it said it was ‘working to freeze fighting’.
‘No, we are not going to put pressure on (Assad) because one must understand that the situation in Aleppo is part of this fight against the terrorist threat,’ declared Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.
At least 27 people died when a hospital was hit last week, leaving a delicate truce negotiated in February hanging by a thread.
Since breaking its ceasefire nine days ago, the regime has reportedly launched more than 260 airstrikes, 110 artillery strikes and 18 missiles, and has dropped 68 bombs.
Some humanitarian organisations are poised to pull out of the city.
A draft statement being circulated among non-governmental aid organisations, seen by the Observer newspaper, warns of a ‘complete absence of the fundamentals of safe humanitarian intervention’ – and accuses Assad’s regime of targeting them on purpose.
This weekend, the United States again demanded that Assad’s forces halt their bombardment. Secretary of State John Kerry was flying to Geneva last night for talks with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.
A new round of UN-backed peace talks is set to start in Geneva on May 10.
Yesterday families continued to flee Aleppo’s rebel-held eastern district.
‘The situation has become unbearable,’ said Abu Mohammed as he prepared to leave with his wife and five children. ‘Everything is paralysed.’
The violence in Aleppo has severely tested the February 27 truce between the regime and non-jihadist rebels intended to pave the way to an end to the conflict.
A pro-government newspaper vowed on Thursday the army was preparing an offensive to recapture all of Aleppo and the surrounding province.
The violence in Aleppo has severely tested the February 27 truce between the regime and non-jihadist rebels intended to pave the way to an end to the conflict
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