Column: Humanitarian corridors in Aleppo on Assad regime’s conditions

Column: Humanitarian corridors in Aleppo on Assad regime's conditions
A child killed by Assad regime's airstrikes on Aleppo

As the international community continues to put pressure on the Assad regime to allow Humanitarian corridors for the delivery of aid to those trapped in the city of Aleppo, the regime has instead come up with a plan it says will provide safe passage for those wishing to leave the city, but only in the direction of areas under Assad’s control.

The regime’s news agency, SANA, published a story stating that the head of Assad’s “army” sent text messages to the people of eastern Aleppo, which is controlled by the opposition, in which he said he would provide safe passage for those wishing to leave the area which is currently under siege by “government” forces.

According to SANA, Assad’s forces called on the population to expel what it described as “foreign mercenaries” out of the city, and in return, they will provide safe passage and temporary shelter to all who wish to leave the region. The regime has also called on opposition fighters to lay down their arms.

The people trapped in the liberated areas of Aleppo are suspicious of the regime’s proposal for they know its duplicity all too well. Residents are afraid of reprisals from  Assad’s “forces” and have no guarantees of safe passage since the regime rejects the intervention of the Red Cross or any other humanitarian organization that would be able to monitor their safety and ensure that they won’t be arrested.

And even if the regime is serious about opening corridors for safe passage, large numbers of civilians will not want to enter the regime-controlled area of Aleppo because of security concerns. Most parents are afraid that their children will be recruited into the ranks of al-Assad’s “army”.

The humanitarian situation has reached the crisis level for more than 250 thousand people trapped in the east of Aleppo since the closing in early July of Castello Road – the only supply route into the region under the control of the opposition – which is now being referred to as “Death Road” due to heavy fighting and an abundance of regime snipers shooting at everyone who tries to pass.

The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, told the UN Security Council that the residents of the eastern districts of Aleppo can move to the western part of the city during daylight hours, “where the situation is much better.”

Churkin’s comments came at a meeting of the Security Council calling for the United Nations Coordinator for Relief to put pressure on Russia and the Assad regime to stop the fighting for a period of 48 hours a week to allow for the delivery of food and other humanitarian aid to the eastern parts of the city.

The regime’s idea of humanitarian relief was to drop leaflets from helicopters on the liberated areas of Aleppo with a list of steps that residents must follow in order to pass into the regime-controlled area. The list included instructions like “holding the leaflet up high with the right hand while placing the other on top of your head or using it to hold onto a child.”

Assad and Putin have consistently denied that they target civilian areas and the leaflet is clear evidence that they are fully aware that there are women and children in the areas they have been dropping their bombs on.

Further instructions say that before approaching the regime checkpoints all civilians must turn around slowly with their hands on their heads so guards can see from a distance if the civilian “terrorists” are carrying weapons or bombs before walking very, very slowly to the checkpoint.

One civilian has already been shot and killed by checkpoint guards but the few families who have successfully passed are now being touted as proof of the regime’s mercy and good intentions.

Sorry Assad, we know that our lives mean nothing to you and we aren’t buying it for a second.

Yasser Ashkar – Orient news