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Gulf states rebuke Assad over violence in Aleppo

Arab League foreign ministers are expected to meet on Monday to discuss situation further
Permanent representative of Saudi Arabia at Arab League Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Kattan in Baghdad in 2012 (AFP)

Gulf Arab countries condemned the Syrian government's handling of a ceasefire and evacuation in Aleppo and called on Thursday for civilians trying to flee the war-torn city to be protected.

An emergency meeting of Arab League representatives convened at Qatar's request discussed the situation in Aleppo, where an evacuation of the rebel-held eastern part of the city was fired upon by forces loyal to the Syrian government.

"The Syrian regime and its allies have not only been content with destroying these cities one after the other, they persistently continue to brutally murder our Syrian brothers and sisters without any religious guidance or humanitarian ethics," Saudi Arabian delegate Ahmed Kattan told the meeting in Cairo.

Qatar is a main supporter of rebels who have been fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia and Iran.

The evacuation of Aleppo's last rebel enclave would end years of fighting for the city and mark a major victory for Assad.

Thousands fled the front lines of fighting in bitterly cold weather as the Syrian military hammered the final pocket of rebel resistance in Aleppo and Russia rejected an immediate ceasefire. The United Nations described the situation as a "complete meltdown of humanity".

Arab League foreign ministers are expected to meet on Monday to discuss the situation further.

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