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Aleppo Exodus: Terrified Syrians Flee Besieged City

The Syrian government offensive to recapture rebel-held Aleppo has prompted a mass exodus of civilians.

Displaced Syrian families flee a devastated neighborhood in eastern Aleppo on Nov. 29 in a handout photo provided by the Aleppo Media Center.

Thousands have fled their pulverized neighborhoods near the rapidly shifting front lines.

Aleppo Media Center via EPA

Syrian families, fleeing eastern Aleppo, carry their belongings towards government-controlled western Aleppo on Nov. 29.

The United Nations has said nearly 16,000 people have fled the government assault and more could follow.

GEORGE OURFALIAN / AFP - Getty Images

Syrian families fleeing eastern Aleppo line up to board government buses heading to government-controlled western Aleppo on Nov. 29. 

Sudden government advances have cut the area held by the opposition by a third in recent days and brought insurgents in the city to the brink of a catastrophic defeat.

AFP - Getty Images

Syrian pro-government forces drive past Syrians who fled eastern Aleppo in Masaken Hanano, a former rebel-held district which was retaken by regime forces last week, on Nov. 30. 

GEORGE OURFALIAN / AFP - Getty Images

Bodies lie on the ground in bags after a bombing in the rebel-held Jibb al-Quebeh neighborhood of Aleppo on Nov. 30. 

Rescue workers in the rebel zone said renewed artillery bombardment had killed more than 45 people, mostly women and children, on Wednesday and injured dozens more, including some of those who had fled from front line areas. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, put the toll from that attack at 26.

Aleppo Media Center via EPA

Syrians evacuated from eastern Aleppo, along with a Russian soldier, left, and a Syrian government soldier, second from right, reach out for Russian food aid in the government-controlled Jibreen area of Aleppo on Nov. 30. 

After a year of gradual advances for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia, Iran and Shi'ite militias, the taking of Aleppo would represent a huge stride forwards in his efforts to end the rebellion after nearly six years of conflict.

OMAR SANADIKI / Reuters

Syrians who fled eastern Aleppo keep warm by a fire under a shelter in the government-controlled Jibreen area of Aleppo on Nov. 30.

 With tens of thousands of people remaining in rebel-held areas of Aleppo, many say they would rather risk death than surrender to a government they have been trying to overthrow since protests against Assad began in 2011.

 

OMAR SANADIKI / Reuters

A Syrian boy, who fled with his family from rebel-held areas in the city of Aleppo, sits on Nov. 30, at a shelter in the government-controlled area of Jibreen.

YOUSSEF KARWASHAN / AFP - Getty Images

Displaced Syrians sit around a fire on Nov. 30 in Jibreen, east of Aleppo.

PHOTOS: Angels on the Front Line: Syria's "White Helmets"

YOUSSEF KARWASHAN / AFP - Getty Images