Syrian Army says Rebels in Besieged East Aleppo Have Food Stores

People inspect damage in Omar Bin Abdulaziz hospital, in the rebel-held besieged area of Aleppo, Syria November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

BEIRUT, Nov 22  – The Syrian army on Tuesday accused rebels in besieged east Aleppo of possessing food stores and told them to distribute rations to alleviate shortages, one week into renewed air strikes and bombardment of the area.

The existence of such food stores could not be verified. On Nov. 10 the United Nations said aid workers were distributing the last available food rations in east Aleppo. The U.N. has not been able to access east Aleppo since early July.

“The general command of the armed forces calls upon militants in the neighbourhoods of east Aleppo to open ration warehouses and distribute food to those that need it,” an army statement said.

Around 250,000 people in Aleppo’s opposition-controlled eastern neighbourhoods have been under effective siege since the army, aided by Iranian-backed militias and Russian jets, cut off the last road into rebel districts in early July.

In another statement, the army told rebels to clear mines from crossings into the government-held western sector designated by the Syrian and Russian militaries as humanitarian corridors, and to let civilians who want to leave do so.

The siege and intense bombardment of east Aleppo have created a dire humanitarian crisis, aggravated by frequent air strikes on hospitals. Medicines, food and fuel are severely depleted.

The Syrian government has said rebels are stopping residents from leaving. Rebel groups and residents of east Aleppo say people are scared to use the corridors for fear of snipers, bombs or arrest.

Many are also worried that if they leave they will never be allowed to return and instead want aid to be allowed in.

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