Sixteen thousand people flee Aleppo in 48 hours as fighting intensifies

  • Video report by ITV News International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar

With territory they have defended for four years now being wrenched from their control, anti-government rebels in the Syrian city of Aleppo are desperately trying to hold out.

The forces of President Assad and his military allies are taking back rebel-held parts of the city, forcing thousands more people to abandon what was left of their homes.

One report says Assad's forces are working to a Russian-backed timetable to bombard and besiege eastern Aleppo into submission before Donald Trump takes over as American president in January.

The rebels had held this area of land since 2012 but as Kurdish troops close in from the north in the latest push by government forces, they won back as much as a third of the territory the.

The Red Cross reports around 16,000 people have fled in the past 48 hours.

Rebel forces are now withdrawing to their last lines, hunkering down to the few positions they say are defendable.

They are also down to their last weapons. One fighter said they are facing an array of President Assad's ground forces, his Iranian and Hezbollah militia supporters and of course the bombardment of Russian planes.

Many of the remaining civilians have now left, with around 16,000 fleeing, the old carrying whatever they were strong enough to bare and children carrying their younger siblings.

The UN has described Aleppo as a "slow motion descent into hell".

Retaking Aleppo will be the biggest military victory for President Assad since this war began, but it will not end the war.

Too much has been lost and destroyed in Aleppo for its people to think about ending the war, it will simply harden their determination to continue.