The Syrian government has sent text messages to residents and rebels in eastern Aleppo telling them to leave the area within 24 hours.

Government forces said that they were preparing a major offensive to push opposition fighters out of the besieged eastern half of the city.

“To the armed people in the neighbourhoods of east Aleppo, we are giving you 24 hours only to decide if you are leaving. Your leadership abroad is incapable of getting you out. Whoever wants to stay alive must drop his weapons and we will secure his safety. After the 24 hours is up we will implement a strategic attack using highly sophisticated weapons,” the messages read.

“The opposition leadership that stays in hotels and castles enjoying a luxurious life doesn’t care about the poor Syrian citizens in east Aleppo. They are using you for their personal benefit. We are giving you, the sick and the wounded, 24 hours to exit if you want.”