Aleppo mayor urges EU to save citizens

East Aleppo Mayor Brita Hagi Hasan arroves to attend a European Union leaders summit at the European Council in Brussels, on Dec 15, 2016.
East Aleppo Mayor Brita Hagi Hasan arroves to attend a European Union leaders summit at the European Council in Brussels, on Dec 15, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The leader of the eastern part of Syria's Aleppo appealed to the EU Thursday (Dec 15) to push for the rescue of 50,000 people as civilians began to evacuate after years of fighting.

Brita Hagi Hassan, who was invited to address European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels, said history would judge them if they failed to protect the innocent from Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"The 50,000 citizens of eastern Aleppo are only waiting for their deaths after the failure of the international community," he told reporters alongside EU President Donald Tusk.

"We need an urgent coalition to force the regime and the Iranian militias present on the ground to respect the ceasefire and we need the organisation of the safe exit of civilians," he said.

Speaking through an interpreter, he added: "History will not forgive. History is registering the international silence in front of the crimes against humanity in Syria."

Hassan was speaking as hundreds of civilians and rebels left Aleppo on Thursday under an evacuation deal that will allow Syria's regime to take full control of the city, backed by Russia and Iranian militias.

Tusk replied: "The last thing your people need today in Aleppo is more words and sympathy. The only thing you need today is effective protection and assistance."

However the EU leaders are set to merely issue a statement condemning the violence and calling on Syria and its allies including Russia to facilitae the evacation of civilians.

Hassan demanded that the UN Security Council, which he singled out for its failure to impose a humanitarian truce, remove "the legitimacy of this regime" based on the evidence of war crimes against it.

"What we are waiting for is acts rather than words because the children in Aleppo are shouting and what they are waitng for is to be rescued," he said.