80,000 have fled east Aleppo since start of army operation: monitor

Syrian families escape the conflict in eastern districts of Aleppo, on November 29, 2016 (AFP Photo/George Ourfalian)

Beirut (AFP) - At least 80,000 people have fled east Aleppo since the Syrian army began an operation in mid-November to recapture the rebel-held sector of the second city, a monitor said Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the figure included residents who have sought refuge in the government-held west of the city and a Kurdish-controlled enclave between the two sectors.

But it does not include others who have fled south to remaining rebel-held territory, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The army has made swift progress in its operation to recapture east Aleppo and now controls three-quarters of the sector, which had been a rebel bastion since 2012.

The government has been urging civilians to leave for months, and has accused the rebels of holding residents hostage for use as "human shields."

Before the assault began, an estimated 250,000 people remained in east Aleppo, which was surrounded by government forces in mid-July, halting deliveries of basic goods.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting