Syrians carry their belongings through streets of rubble as they flee clashes between government forces and rebels in Tariq al-Bab and al-Sakhour neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo towards other rebel-held besieged areas. Photo: Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail

France on Tuesday called for an immediate United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo, which has been devastated by fighting.

“More than ever before, we need to urgently put in place means to end the hostilities and to allow humanitarian aid to get through unhindered,” French foreign affairs minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a statement.

The Syrian army and its allies announced the capture of a large swathe of eastern Aleppo from rebels on Monday in an accelerating attack that threatens to crush the opposition in its most important urban stronghold.

Capturing eastern Aleppo would be the biggest victory for President Bashar al-Assad since the start of the uprising against him in 2011, restoring his control over the whole city apart from a Kurdish-held area that has not fought against him.

Up to 16,000 civilians have fled eastern Aleppo as the rebels lost all of the northern neighborhoods of their stronghold, the UN said Tuesday, describing the situation as “chilling”.

“The intensity of attacks on eastern Aleppo neighborhoods over the past few days has forced thousands of civilians to flee to other parts of the city,” UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said in a statement.

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