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As Syrian Troops Close In On Rebels In Aleppo, Civilians Are In Need


We're going to shift our focus now to Syria, where government troops are closing in on the last rebel-held neighborhoods of the besieged city of Aleppo. And the situation for civilians is increasingly desperate; so are some of the efforts to stop the bloodshed there. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that a French parliamentary delegation is now making an unlikely call for Western troops to be used to secure a kind of humanitarian corridor to get civilians out.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: French Congressman Herve Mariton is part of the bipartisan delegation that traveled to Syria in a desperate last attempt to do something to save the people of east Aleppo. Speaking to NPR on the phone from the Turkish-Syrian border, he says Russia's relentless bombing is trapping tens of thousands of civilians in increasingly dire conditions.

HERVE MARITON: The military battle is lost. The territory controlled by the people from Aleppo east is getting smaller and smaller, but the population then is denser and denser.

BEARDSLEY: Mariton says it wouldn't take much to prevent a massacre, but the West must act immediately.

MARITON: A five-kilometer corridor with security enforced with our troops - that means French, Europeans, even Americans, if need be - for a 24-hour period to help evacuate the people from Aleppo east.

BEARDSLEY: The United Nations is ready to go, says Mariton. It just needs guarantees of safe passage.

MARITON: They've got the ambulances nearby, the coaches, all the organization necessary, but the U.N. is - it's unable of doing anything, politically speaking, when the Russians say no.

BEARDSLEY: Talks in Geneva over the weekend failed to convince the Russians to pause their bombardment of the city and let civilians leave.

MARITON: The Russians want an absolute victory and an absolute defeat from the people of Aleppo east.

BEARDSLEY: But with no Western government ready to commit troops or act to stop the bombing, the French delegation's appeal is little more than a symbolic gesture to show the people of east Aleppo that they haven't been completely forgotten. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.
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