With three days before Christmas, Syrian forces announced that they have regained full control over the country’s largest city, Aleppo. The feat marks the biggest win for the Syrian government since 2011 when the civil war emerged.
The operation was possible after a massive evacuation deal that put an end to a month-long standoff between government forces and the rebels camped in the eastern parts of the city. Now that Aleppo is safe, the four-and-a-half-year-long battle reached its end.
Aleppo Residents Rejoice
Despite extreme temperatures, thousands of Aleppo residents that lived in the government-protected area in the west rallied on the streets, cheering and chanting. Drivers joined the crowd by sounding their horns, while kids painted the Syrian flag on their faces.
Our joy is immense. Life returned to Aleppo today,
said attorney Omar Halli.
Syrian general command told the public that Aleppo is fully secured as the army pushed terrorists out. Rebels, on the other hand, described the move as a “great loss” for the movement against the Syrian government.
One rebel leader said the revolution now faces a “difficult turning point.” Fighters said that the city is now under the Russian and Iranian occupation. The army’s announcement comes after reports that the last convoy carrying rebels reached the government-controlled part of the city. Red Cross officials estimate 4,000 rebels fled the city during the evacuation.
The Aleppo loss is the largest defeat for the rebel movement in a six-year war that claimed the lives of more than 300,000 people. The Syrian government regained control of its five largest cities: Damascus, Hama, Latakia, Aleppo and Homs.
The Syrian conflict started in March 2011 following anti-government protests. The government’s intervention in the protests attracted IS fighters to the area. After Aleppo’s liberation, president Assad’s close allies – Russia and Iran – can breathe a sigh of relief. Their opponents – the rebels, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the U.S. – must cope with a bitter defeat.
Aleppo Evacuation – a Victory Against Terrorism
The Syrian war has been a reason of concern for all of the world’s powers because of the growing conflict between U.S. and Russia. Syria’s state news agency noted the government’s success in Aleppo marks a victory not only for Syria but for all countries that fight terrorism.
Official reports say heavy snowfall slowed down the evacuation. A spokesperson for the red cross said the government evacuated 4,000 rebels from eastern Aleppo in just one night. About 34,000 people in total fled the rebel-controlled area under the evacuation plans.
The U.N. sent 31 independent observers to oversee the evacuation on Monday. Rebels reportedly agreed to leave the city after a ferocious offensive that stripped them of 90 percent of their territory.
Russia, which attacked rebels from above, and Turkey, which backed the rebels, led the negotiations for the deal. Under the evacuation deal, Sunni rebels agreed to allow Shiite residents in two besieged villages in the northwest to flee. This week, 1,000 people evacuated the villages.
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