The Rebels May Have Been Thwarted But Aleppo’s Battle Is Far From Over

Five years of intense fighting and months of bitter siege and bombardment have left the city in ruins with food and water shortages and all hospitals closed.


Rebel resistance in Syria's Aleppo finally ended on Dec. 13. The ceasefire was negotiated by Turkey and Russia, without U.S. involvement.

The battle of Aleppo ended with victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, shattering hopes of rebels ousting him.

"Over the last hour we have received information that the military activities in east Aleppo have stopped, it has stopped," Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin announced. "The Syrian government has established control over east Aleppo."

"We appear to be witnessing nothing less than ... a total uncompromising military victory," U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon told the U.N. Security Council.

While many breathe sighs of relief, in reality, the battle seems to be far from over.

Rebels and their families were scheduled to leave the city by the next morning, but have yet to leave the city. Twenty buses, waiting with their engines running on the designated time, showed no sign of moving into Aleppo's rebel-held eastern districts.

"There is certainly a delay," said Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory, a war monitor.

There were also reports, authenticated by the U.N. as well as pouring out on social media of civilians being targeted by the Syrian government troops and an allied Iraqi militia.


Even the local volunteer rescue force, the White Helmets, described streets full of dead bodies and their inability to do anything to help the people.


And then air strikes, shelling and gunfire erupted and a monitoring group said the truce appeared to have collapsed. Syrian state television said rebel shelling of the Bustan al-Qasr district, recently recaptured by the army, had killed six people.

Russia said government forces were responding to rebel attacks. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said rebel resistance was likely to end in the next two or three days.

"There are many corpses in Fardous and Bustan al-Qasr with no one to bury them,” said Abu Malek al-Shamali, a resident in the rebel area.

"Last night people slept in the streets and in buildings where every flat has several families crowded in," he added.

"They have gone from siege to slaughter," British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said.

"The crushing of Aleppo, the immeasurably terrifying toll on its people, the bloodshed, the wanton slaughter of men, women and children, the destruction – and we are nowhere near the end of this cruel conflict," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement.

In the words of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, "Aleppo will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later - Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica and now Aleppo."


Whatever may be the final outcome, the Syrian people have been and will continue to be victimized. Even now, leaving their city behind, they face an uncertain future.

Aleppo, the most populous city before the civil war and the country's financial center, has turned to nothing more than ruins and will take years to get back to normal.

Jonathan Marcus, BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, fears rebel fighters may seek refuge in other parts of the country, most likely the Idlib province south-west of Aleppo. “This could well be the next major battleground, if the government and its Russian backers want to maintain the momentum,” he writes.

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