DAMASCUS, SYRIA (12:45 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) encouraged civilians in east Aleppo this afternoon to go as far away as they can from the Islamist rebels, as they make their final preparations before launching their wide-scale offensive.

Using a loud speaker, a Syrian Arab Army officer issued a warning to the people of east Aleppo that urged them to stay away from the militants; and if possible, reach the nearest government checkpoint.

With east Aleppo completely encircled, the Syrian Arab Army and their Russian counterparts are attempting to avoid civilian casualties during their upcoming assault against the Islamist rebels of Fateh Halab.

Recently, the Islamist rebels have blocked civilians from leaving the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, unless they pay a fee of $300 (U.S.) to one of the militant factions.

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