UPDATE 1045 GMT: By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Russia has declared that besieged civilians can leave opposition-held parts of Aleppo city through three corridors. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said mobile centers will provide food and medical assistance to those who leave.Shoigu said another corridor can be used by rebels who lay down their arms.“To avoid unnecessary casualties among the militants who have not laid down arms yet and were not involved in the bloody crimes we ask the leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic to guarantee them amnesty and pardon,” Shoigu said.
He said Russia was appealing to international organizations to join the “humanitarian operation”.The Governor of Aleppo Province, Mohammad Marwan Olabi, echoed the Russian announcement.Meanwhile, the Syrian military and pro-regime outlets are claiming that rebels withdrew from the Bani Zeid district of western Aleppo city on Wednesday after weeks of battles.A regime soldier stands atop a Syrian Revolution flag in Bani Zeid this morning:
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Syria’s Kurdish militia YPG have helped tighten the siege of opposition-held areas of Aleppo, seizing a position on the last route into the city.
The YPG seized the Youth Housing Complex on the al-Castello road north of Aleppo on Wednesday. Pro-opposition activists said Kurdish occupation would reinforce the Assad regime’s control of the route, established three weeks ago when pro-Assad forces took the nearby
al-Mallah Farms and positioned heavy artillery near the route.
Pro-Kurdish outlets claimed the YPG counter-attacked after rebels attacked their positions in the Sheikh Maqsoud area of Aleppo city. There have been clashes in the mainly-Kurdish area between rebels and the YPG for months.
Rebel supporters responded that the YPG had effectively coordinated their attacks in Sheikh Masqoud with ongoing regime assaults in nearby areas such as Layramoun and Bani Zaid.
A pro-regime blogger, with contacts in the Syrian military, pointed to the de facto YPG-regime coordination this morning:
The YPG took parts of opposition-held Aleppo Province early this year, taking advantage of attacks by both a regime-Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah offensive and by the Islamic State in northwest Syria.
High-level UN officials have warned since last week of the effects of a siege, with Stephen O’Brien, the head of humanitarian operations, saying on Monday, “I cannot stress enough how critical the situation is for those trapped.” Activists and local officials say up to 400,000 people are in the neighborhoods.
However, the US and other powers have given no indication of pressure on the Assad regime to lift the siege. Instead, Washington is working with Russia on a proposal for a joint command-and-control center inside Syria, pursuing operations against the Islamic State and the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra.
Meanwhile, Russia and the regime have continued bombing of opposiition areas in and near Aleppo, killing hundreds of people and destroying infrastructure such as hospitals.
The Syrian military dropped leaflets on east Aleppo warning residents to leave. The regime’s UN ambassador, Bashar al-Jaafari, sent a letter to the Security Council on Tuesday saying that the residents had been offered safe passage and assurances of temporary accommodation.