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'Tyranny has won': 4-year Aleppo war ends as Russia confirms evacuation deal

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 14 December 2016, 12:46 IST

On the intervening night of 13-14 December, Russia declared that the four-year battle over Aleppo has come to an end as rebel fighters agreed to surrender their territory to the Syrian government.

A source in the powerful Ahrar al-Sham rebel group confirmed the deal and its details.

As per the deal, evacuation was to begin between 5-6 am on wednesday as the UN said it had received reports of at least 82 civilians, including 11 women and 13 children, being executed by pro-government forces by gunning down families in apartments and on the streets.

The war-ending deal was announced just when civilians in the rebel enclave said they had lost all hope to survive. Spending their days in broken and abandoned apartments, the civilians were bracing for arrest or death, reported BBC.


According to a report in New York Times, the deal was struck after widespread concern about the fate of civilians, as United Nations warned of "a complete meltdown of humanity".

However, the UN said it hasn't been able to verify the reports of the deaths as the Syrian government was repeatedly denying permission to monitor the evacuations and civilian stuck on the battlefield. To which Russia had earlier claimed that UN's "credible reports" were not credible enough.

Yasser al-Youssef from the political office of the key Nurredin al-Zinki group told AFP that the deal with President Bashar al-Assad's regime was being "sponsored" by Russia and Turkey.

"An agreement has been reached. The first stage will be the evacuation of civilians and wounded, within hours, and afterwards fighters will leave with their light weapons," Youssef said.

Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said that fighting in the east of the city had ended. "According to the latest information that we received in the last hour, military actions in eastern Aleppo are over,"

Those leaving will be allowed to travel to other rebel-held territory in the west of Aleppo province or neighbouring Idlib province, he said.

When asked about the Idlib province becoming the "next Aleppo", Staffan de Mistura, UN official, acknowledged that grim possibility, adding, "We are working on that," reported the Guardian.

The French envoy addressed the Aleppo war as "the worst humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century unfolding before our eyes".

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, UN rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said, "UN filled with the deepest foreboding for those who remain in this last hellish corner of opposition-held eastern Aleppo."

The four-year battle over Aleppo has been particularly heart wrenching as the war decimated one of the world's oldest and beautiful cities - a World Heritage site - adding to it blood, tears and human suffering. The rebel-held eastern Aleppo was unable to halt or counter the Syrian government's continuous bombing which made life in that region a living hell.

According to media reports, the evacuated civilians will be free to relocate once they reach Idlib.

The evacuation of east Aleppo means the opposition will surrender the last major urban stronghold where it maintained an active presence.


As the war came to a halt, people had their own expressions:

A teacher in the city referring to the rainfall that had slowed down the relentless aerial bombardment of recent days, said, "The sky is crying for Aleppo with soft tears. The sky is much kinder than human beings. For this we will stay there finally. There is no justice but in heaven." (the guardian)

Another survivor said, "Please just tell our stories to the world, please let my son be proud of his father." (the guardian)

New York Times quoted Malek, an activist as saying, "Some are crying from happiness, others are sad they will no longer be able to kneel to pray in Aleppo."

"I'm sad, as well - I paid blood for Aleppo, but I can never again set foot here. Tyranny has won."

BBC quoted Abdul Kafi Alhamado, a teacher, as saying, "Some people are under the rubble, no-one can help them. They just leave them under the rubble until they die - these houses as their graves."

First published: 14 December 2016, 12:46 IST