By Clarissa Ward
(CNN)Syrian and Russian forces are to open humanitarian corridors for people to flee Aleppo, the day after Syria’s army announced that it had encircled the besieged city — cutting off supply lines and creating relief sites to distribute food and medicine to civilians.
But what does the relief operation mean for the desperate citizens of Aleppo and the future of the city?
Undercover behind rebel lines
Syria: Undercover behind rebel lines
The Russians and Syrian government forces have been pounding Aleppo relentlessly for months now in an effort to take back the eastern part of the city which has been in rebel hands for nearly four years.
Aleppo has seen many of its neighborhoods come under fire for 80 consecutive days, with more than 6,000 people — mainly civilians — killed or injured. Four hospitals have been hit. Rebel fighters have been hitting back with artillery and bombings but they simply can’t match the firepower that government forces have since the Russian intervention.
Why are the latest development such a big deal?
Aleppo is the country’s largest city and a vital economic hub. When rebels first launched their attack on the city in July 2012, it sent shock waves through government-held parts of Aleppo. Regime strongholds were no longer seen as impenetrable.
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