MPs will consider how Britain should respond to the siege of the Syrian city of Aleppo in an emergency debate called for Tuesday.
It comes after Tory MP and former Development Minister Andrew Mitchell called for the UK to act amid claims that those still in the ruined city face a massacre.
He was granted the emergency debate by Speaker John Bercow, and it will take place on Tuesday as the four-year battle looks to have been decided in favor of the Assad government.
Concern has also been raised by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and agencies on the ground, including in a lengthy statement by the White Helmets rescue group which claims that 100,000 people need to be evacuated.
“The debate would enable us to explore with the Government how Britain’s immense diplomatic muscle, the finest foreign service in the world, can do more to secure a deal that will ensure a ceasefire for at least 24 hours to enable innocent civilians to be rescued from the hideous circumstances which now prevail in east Aleppo,” Mitchell said.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, however, recently wrote that any attempt at airdrops into the area would constitute a military operation within what is effectively Russian-controlled airspace.
For their part, the White Helmets, which was founded by a shadowy former British Army officer-turned-contractor and appears to be largely funded by USAID – an American NGO – and the UK government, released a statement on social media calling for help from the outside world.
“If we stay we fear for our lives. The women may be taken to camps, the men disappeared and anyone who is known to have supported civilians will face detention or execution,” they said.
“We’ve watched thousands of our boys and men be detained.
Countless White Helmets, doctors, nurses and humanitarians have been targeted and killed in the regime’s cruel assault on Aleppo.
The regime has been trying to kill us for five years. Please don’t get them this chance.
“We cannot believe that the world’s most powerful countries cannot get 100,000 souls four kilometres to relative safety,” the statement added.
The White Helmets were founded by former British Army officer James Le Mesurier. While his regimental background is uncertain, his public biography states he has worked for the UK Foreign Office and the UN.