Eiffel Tower goes dark in support of Aleppo civilian victims

15 Dec 2016


The lights of the Eiffel Tower in Paris were switched off on Wednesday to show support for the people of the shattered Syrian city of Aleppo.

The monument was plunged into darkness from 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) in what Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said was a protest at the "unbearable" situation for civilians in the city where fighting raged during the day.

Rebel forces announced a new deal late Wednesday to allow residents to be evacuated from the city.

Hidalgo said in a statement before the lights on the tower were switched off that "the final roads of Aleppo held by the opposition are being taken by the regime, creating hundreds of victims".

"We hope that this symbolic measure, on a monument that is known around the world, will show the international community once more the urgent need to act," she told Europe 1.

Several hundred people demonstrated in Paris on Wednesday in support of Aleppo's residents, an AFP journalist reported.

Some of the protesters wore a piece of red clothing to symbolise the blood spilled in the fierce battle for Syria's second city.

Syrian government forces have reclaimed most of the city from rebel fighters in recent days amid reports of atrocities committed against residents attempting to flee.

UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said the organization had received detailed reports of deadly attacks on civilians by victorious pro-government militias.

Hollande concerned
French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday joined calls for international observers to oversee the evacuation of civilians trapped under fire in the wrecked city.

At a meeting with his defence cabinet, Hollande said those trapped by the fighting should "be evacuated in a dignified and safe manner, under the supervision of international observers and in the presence of humanitarian organizations", the presidency said in a statement.

Hollande also demanded that the population of eastern Aleppo receive "unconditional aid and protection" and said only a negotiated political transition could lead to "a lasting victory over terrorism" in Syria.

The French statement echoed a call by the US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who said on Tuesday that foreign observers should be allowed in to "oversee the safe evacuation of the people who wish to leave but who justifiably fear that if they try, they will be shot in the street or carted off to one of (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad's gulags".

On Wednesday, Aleppo was rocked anew by fierce clashes, jeopardizing a deal for the evacuation of civilians and fighters from remaining rebel-held areas.

French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said France and Germany were pressing for the creation of humanitarian corridors allowing civilians out and aid agencies into the battered city.

He rejected calls for Hollande to take a leaf from late Socialist president Francois Mitterrand's book by visiting Aleppo.

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