The Assad regime forces are arresting and forcibly conscripting civilians fleeing eastern Aleppo, the Daily Telegraph reported on Monday. Relatives of detainees said that dozens of military-aged teachers, medics and aid workers have been rounded up and spirited away, as regime troops push further into the city.
The brother of one of those detained told how regime forces were detaining men under the age of 40 whom they accused of supporting the armed opposition.
“I was with him (Mohammed, his brother) when he was taken by the secret service,” said Yussef, who did not wish to give his full name for fear of reprisal. “We just wanted to leave Aleppo to find safety.”
“He was not political, he never took part in any anti-government protests,” said Yussef, speaking from the northern Syrian city of Azaz where he and his family are now seeking refuge.
Yussef added that his brother Mohammed, 30, a father-of-three, had worked as a nurse at a hospital until a few months ago, when he joined a local medical NGO.
Aleppo and its countryside have been subjected to ferocious onslaught by the Assad regime and Russian forces since November 15. Over 900 people, mostly women and children, have so far been killed and thousands more injured in the ongoing bombing campaign on the city and its countryside.
The relentless aerial bombardment forced all schools and hospitals in eastern Aleppo to close down and destroyed two civil defense centers.
Yussef said he knew of many others who have suffered the same fate and feared there were likely hundreds more than reported.
The Telegraph spoke to two other families which confirmed the detentions. One father, whose son was arrested 10 days ago, has heard his son was already fighting with regime forces in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.
The Assad regime has been looking to bolster its dwindling forces, having suffered a huge loss of manpower during the bloody five-year-conflict.
“We haven’t heard anything from him since December 1st,” Yussef said. “I think that we will never hear from him again.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office + Al-Jazeera)