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Syrian government gains more ground in Aleppo while civilians starve

A Syrian woman and youths, one of them carrying a wounded baby, flee the site of a reported barrel-bomb attack by Syrian government forces in the northern city of Aleppo on June 26, 2014. Syria's war has killed more than 162,000 people and forced nearly half the population to flee their homes. AFP PHOTO /AMC / ZEIN AL-RIFAI (Photo credit should read ZEIN AL-RIFAI/AFP/Getty Images)

According to reports from the BBC, Syrian government forces have retaken at least 50 percent of Eastern Aleppo for the first time in four years. Rebel forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been under seize in Eastern Aleppo by Syrian government fighters aided by Russia for the past several weeks. This led Stephen O'Brien, the UN's humanitarian affairs chief, to say parts of the city were in danger of becoming "one giant graveyard." From the BBC:

Some 250,000 people remain trapped in besieged areas of the city.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced. The United Nations this week said conditions in east Aleppo were now so dire that medical operations were being conducted without anaesthetics.

Rebel fighters are being pushed out of Eastern Aleppo into more densely populated areas to the South and the United Nations is preparing for another exodus of displaced civilians. Civilians trapped within the city, once Syria's industrial hub, have been reduced to starvation and scavenging for food.

An uprising against Assad began in 2011 that effectively divided the city, but government troops have broken the rebel stronghold over the last 11 months with the help of Iranian soldiers and Russian airstrikes.

On Thursday, Russia announced an intent to open safe humanitarian channels for civilian access, according to the BBC:

...Syria's ally Russia is involved in a new effort to co-ordinate with rebel forces to arrange the evacuation of the sick and wounded and allow as many as 1,000 civilian activists who are not involved in the fighting to leave.
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