“I am extremely concerned about the continued violence in Syria, in particular the significant deterioration in Aleppo and its impact on the civilian population,” said the UN Military Adviser, Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, who is currently serving as the head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS).
“I urge the parties to protect civilians and respect their obligations under international humanitarian law,” he added in an UNSMIS statement. “Civilians must not be subjected to shelling and use of heavy weapons.”
Syria has been wracked by violence, with an estimated 17,000 people, mostly civilians, killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 17 months ago.
Over recent days, there have been reports of an escalation in violence in many towns and villages, as well as the country’s two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, with the latter reportedly the centre of intense combat between Government and opposition forces, involving both aerial bombardments and heavy weaponry.
Following reports of shortages of food, gas and electricity, the United Nations is preparing to deliver food assistance to some 28,000 people in Aleppo. The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent estimate that some 200,000 people have fled the city and the surrounding areas because of the increase in fighting.
“I call on all parties to take all necessary steps to open a dialogue as the only way to alleviate the suffering of civilians and bring this conflict to an end,” Lieutenant General Gaye said.