Hundreds of people gathered outside Downing Street in London last tonight (13 December) in a rally calling for the end of the bloodshed in Syria hours after the United Nations described the situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo as "a complete meltdown of humanity".
In recent months, pro-Syrian government forces launched a major offensive to regain control of the city, with Russia's military saying 98% of territory was back in government hands.
Tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped in rebel-held areas of the city besieged by Syrian government forces backed by Iranian militias and supported by Russian air strikes.
Some 200 people gathered outside the British Prime Minister's residence on 10 Downing Street in central London to take part in the so-called #Youth4Aleppo emergency protest "in solidarity with Aleppo and calling for an immediate ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid by international organisations".
Protesters demanded immediate action from the British government to intervene, and press for a ceasefire. Speaking at an emergency debate in the House of Commons on the events in Aleppo hours before the protest, the former UK chancellor George Osborne said that the UK shares the blame for the terrible tragedy unfolding in Syria.
A Syrian woman from Homs, Issam Hamzi, told IBTimes UK she attended the protest to "tell all the world nobody can occupy Syria". Addressing PM Theresa May, Hamzi said: "Unfortunately Teresa May, you are not a mother [...] you have seen the children [being killed]? Did you have a feeling when they are slaughtered in Syria? Did you see when the children are killed? When the women are raped? Or are you sleeping?".
UN agencies reported that pro-government forces had been summarily killing civilians in Aleppo, including women and children. Unicef added that as many as 100 children may be trapped inside a building under heavy attack in the city.
The woman, who said she had been living in the UK for a long time, insisted: "I love England and I love Syria, but please, Theresa May, wake up, wake up and save our children."
Referring to the fact rebels were branded terrorists by Russia, Hamzi said: "In Syria, there are fighters and I am one of them. Whether you want it or not, then we are terrorists. Syria is for Syrian people".
A young woman holding Syria's national flag, Ridjia, said she was despairing over the "massive humanitarian crisis", for which she said "there is not enough that's happening at the moment to support the people of Aleppo."
"They are getting butchered, they are getting shot on the spot. Women and children and getting killed. I don't support the Assad regime and I don't support the rebels either. I support the people of Syria. Hopefully, this [protest] can get some support and we can start lobbying Parliament, and they can hopefully drop humanitarian aid in Aleppo."
Edith, a student from Turkey, said, while Turkey has come under criticism for failing to fight pro-Assad forces, she believes her country is not "doing enough about it. It is a violation of human rights issue. Turkish people are here, there are many Muslims here [at the protest], who support Aleppo."
Following the protest, Russia's ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said military action has ceased in eastern Aleppo which, if confirmed, would bring to an end four years of fighting.
Maher Hamadouch, a young man from the Syrian city of Jableh, said: "People are being led in the wrong direction to think that they should be against Assad when they don't have a suitable candidate for replacement."
Asked to comment on the UN's reports that Assad forces may have committed extra-judicial killings of civilians, Hamadouch accused of rebels of "shooting people, killing people and using children as human shields".
Describing how he believes "people are being brainwashed by the media to think that Assad is a bad person", the pro-government supporter said: "Would you rather have Isis or the rebels in charge, or Assad in charge, who was democratically elected in 2013 to be the leader of Syria?"