The Syrian government rejected a UN proposal to allow autonomous administration in eastern Aleppo on Sunday (20 November). Under the proposal, UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura had called on the estimated 900 militants linked to al-Qaeda to leave the troubled area and flee to other rebel-held areas in Syria, in exchange for peace.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who met the UN envoy on Sunday in Damascus, said that restoring regime rule was a matter of "national sovereignty" and added that the Syrian government would not let the people of Aleppo be held hostage by 6,000 gunmen.

"It is not acceptable at all to leave some 275,000 of our people as hostages to 6,000 or 7,000 gunmen. There is no government in the world that would accept that. We agreed on the need that terrorists should get out of east Aleppo to end the suffering of the civilians in the city," he added.

The UN envoy admitted that there was a major disagreement with Muallem and said that a creative interim decision was required to put an end to the violence in eastern Aleppo. In an earlier interview with the Guardian newspaper, De Mistura said that the Syrian regime would be chasing a "pyrrhic victory" in Aleppo if it did not reach a political solution with the opposition.

Since the government resumed its assault on the besieged city on 15 November, at least 164 civilians have been killed, UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. According to UN estimates, at least 250,000 people are still trapped in the city. By 19 November, there were no hospitals operating in full capacity in eastern Aleppo as they were destroyed in government bombings, the Syrian American Medical Society said.

According to state media and the Observatory, regime forces advanced into parts of Hanano district that are strategically important points in northeastern parts of the city.

Rebels located outside the city launched two unsuccessful offensives to break the government siege and shelled government-held areas in western Aleppo. Earlier on Sunday, at least eight children and a teacher were killed when rockets hit a school in regime-held western Aleppo. The regime has also reportedly stepped up attacks in western Ghouta region after coercing rebels in eastern Ghouta to surrender earlier this year.

Aleppo bombings 16/11/2016
Men ride bicycles near rubble of damaged buildings in a rebel-held besieged area in Aleppo, Syria, REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail