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East Aleppo Mayor Pleads For Help From The International Community

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That agreement to evacuate civilians in the besieged eastern part of the city of Aleppo has apparently been broken. This morning, there's word that those evacuations are stalled. In the last 24 hours, civilians in East Aleppo have pleaded for help in desperate videos broadcast on social media. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that the head of the municipal council from east Aleppo was in Paris last night, asking for help from the international community.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRITA HAJI HASSAN: (Foreign language spoken).

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Brita Haji Hassan looked haggard as he faced a room of reporters. Over the last year, this engineer and father of eight has tried to keep schools and hospitals running and bread rations distributed. But that's finished, and he's simply trying to help get his people out of eastern Aleppo.

HASSAN: (Through interpreter) Can you imagine 100,000 people coming out of their homes and being forced to leave with nothing? But obviously this is better than staying and being massacred. And this is what the Russians want.

BEARDSLEY: Hassan says the evacuation must be run by international organizations, such as the UN and the Red Cross, and not the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

HASSAN: (Through interpreter) Obviously, people are not going to trust their murder. In the past, they were stopped and arrested or killed or conscripted to fight on the front.

BEARDSLEY: Though eastern Aleppo appears to have fallen, this elected official says the Syrian revolution is based on ideals like freedom and dignity that are bigger than the ground war. He says his people will never give up until Bashar al-Assad is gone.

HASSAN: (Through interpreter) This is a criminal, occupying regime, but there are vast zones that have already been liberated. And we will liberate the entire country one day.

BEARDSLEY: Of course Aleppo is destroyed, says Brita Haji Hassan, but people will come back home and rebuild when Assad is gone. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: December 14, 2016 at 12:00 AM EST
A previous headline misspelled Aleppo as Allepo.