Turkish backed Syrian opposition slams UN call for Al Qaeda to leave eastern Aleppo

In a statement the Ankara-backed Syrian interim government said that comments made by Staffan de Mistura on Thursday constituted a "violation of humanitarian principles" and the "professional criteria" of the UN.

On Thursday, an emotional de Mistura made a startling and impassioned plea to rebels from the al-Qaeda linked Fatah al-Sham group to leave East Aleppo even offering to "physically accompany" fighters during the withdrawal.

The Fatah al-Sham dilemma

De Mistura said that Fatah al-Sham fighters made up around 900 of the estimated 8,000 rebel fighters holed up in East Aleppo. Around 275,000 civilians are also besieged in the area, unable to leave.

The UN envoy for Syria suggested that if Fatah al-Sham did not leave then Aleppo could face "total destruction" by the end of the year.

He claimed that the presence of the group - formerly known as al-Nusra Front - provided the Syrian regime and its Russian backers with an excuse to pound the east of the city.

However, the Syrian Interim Government viewed de Mistura's comments as being biased against the rebels and "ignoring" Russian and Syrian crimes.

By asking Fatah al-Sham to leave the opposition said the UN Syria chief was siding with the Syrian regime and "justifiying” their slaughter of hundreds of civilians over the past weeks.


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