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US, Western leaders calling for immediate Aleppo cease-fire

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Mezzeh Military Airport on fire after airstrike

One activist in eastern Aleppo told CNN as many as 200,000 people - including rebels and their families - were crammed into 10 rebel-held neighborhoods, some having fled from other areas under fire.

On Wednesday, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the USA issued a joint statement condemning Damascus and Moscow for the violence in Aleppo.

"Only a political settlement can bring peace for people in Syria", the statement said.

"We urge all parties in Syria to adhere to global humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions", the statement said. "It is Syria and the Russian Federation". A US official said they were likely to discuss safe passage for rebels out of Aleppo.

The proposal calls for the immediate evacuation of 500 seriously wounded and for allowing civilians wishing to leave to head to northern rural Aleppo, where there is nearly no government presence. According to the Observatory, 369 civilians, including 45 children, were killed in eastern Aleppo since November 15. But Power said current global military efforts against terrorism are like playing "whack-a-mole".

As the United States and Russian Federation prepare talks on the prospect of a full rebel withdrawal from Aleppo, the militants themselves are at loggerheads over what to do next. The police official said the rockets also caused extensive damage to buildings and cars parked on the streets.

Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly accused rebels of holding civilians hostage in eastern Aleppo and using them as human shields, allegations that civilians in opposition-held areas have denied.

Activists with the Aleppo Media Center said the regime "was able to capture the neighborhood of Tareeq al-Bab after capturing al-Muwasalt neighborhood, as well as al-Shaar, Karm al-Jabal and several neighborhoods in the old city of Aleppo such as Bab al-Hadeed, Agheour, Bab al-Nasser, al-Bayada and Qadi Askar" after rebel forces withdrew.

Rebels in Aleppo, some of whom just days earlier were vowing to fight on and professed to be gaining momentum, were largely resigned and demoralized on Wednesday.

In a statement Tuesday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said it will not approve any cease-fire initiative that doesn't include rebel evacuation from eastern Aleppo.

The offensive has killed at least 369 people in east Aleppo, including 45 children, the Observatory says.

"But it will be a huge step towards this end", he added, according to a report by the AFP news agency.

Asked to comment on the deaths of two nurses at a makeshift Russian military hospital in Aleppo this week, Stoltenberg said "the situation in Aleppo is very, very hard".

He said "the main reason is the renewed offensive by the Syrian regime, supported by Russian Federation". The Observatory said the troops are continuing their push south.

Meanwhile, pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV said Syrian airstrikes targeted rebel positions near the citadel, after they fired mortar shells that slammed the citadel, causing no casualties.

The United States, Britain and France led a call Wednesday from six countries for an immediate ceasefire to allow aid into the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo.

But in an interview to be published Thursday by Syrian newspaper al-Watan, early copies of which were given to worldwide media, the president talked up a victory in the northern city.

Damascus and Moscow have been calling on rebels to withdraw from the city, disarm and accept safe passage out, a procedure that has been carried out in other areas where rebels abandoned besieged territory in recent months.

The proposal calls for the immediate evacuation of 500 seriously wounded Aleppo residents and for allowing civilians wishing to leave to head to northern rural Aleppo province, where there is nearly no government presence.

"It's true that Aleppo will be a win for us, but let's be realistic - it won't mean the end of the war in Syria", he said.

There has been no response from Damascus about the rebels' offer. No injuries were reported.

The Israeli military declined to comment on that incident, and there was no immediate comment on Wednesday's attack.

Over the weekend, the Syrian army backed by the allied forces liberated a number of districts in eastern Aleppo and is leading the offensive further after militants refused to surrender and leave the city peacefully.

In a blistering three-week offensive, Syrian government forces have seized about 80 percent of east Aleppo, a stronghold for rebel groups since 2012. Under the plan, if a deal is reached the government and rebels would negotiate the future status of what was once Syria's largest city and its economic powerhouse.

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