The director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has today declared that the battle for Aleppo has reached its end, as the Assad regime army and its allies force the Syrian opposition to withdraw from the last six neighbourhoods that it controlled in east Aleppo.
Rami Abdulrahman, SOHR’s chief, made the announcement today after the opposition to President Bashar Al-Assad were finally forced to abandon their last holdouts in their ever shrinking enclave after Russian and Iran-backed Assad regime forces continued a never-ending bombardment of opposition-held neighbourhoods.
A Reuters journalist in the regime-held zone said the bombardment of rebel areas had continued non-stop overnight, and a civilian trapped there described the situation as resembling Judgment Day.
“The battle in eastern Aleppo should end quickly. [The opposition] don’t have much time. They either have to surrender or die,” Lieutenant-General Zaid Al-Saleh, head of the regime’s Aleppo security committee, told reporters in the recaptured Sheikh Saeed district of the city earlier today before the battle was declared at an end by SOHR.
Pro-regime forces and Iran-backed Shia militias were clashing with insurgents in the Fardous district, which was at the heart of the besieged pocket only days ago, after taking Sheikh Saeed in the south and Saliheen in the east, an opposition official said earlier.
The opposition’s sudden retreat represented a “big collapse in terrorist morale”, a Syrian military source said. The Assad regime and its backers call all forces opposed to the continued dictatorship of President Bashar Al-Assad “terrorists”, irrespective of their involvement with terrorism.
Al-Assad, backed by Russia, Iran and an assortment of international Shia jihadists controlled by Tehran, has now seemingly succeeded in taking back full control of Aleppo, which was Syria’s most populous city before the war and would be his greatest prize so far after nearly six years of conflict.
The Russian Defence Ministry said that since the start of the Aleppo battle, more than 2,200 opposition fighters had surrendered and 100,000 civilians had left areas of the city that were controlled by anti-Assad regime forces.
“People run from one shelling to another to escape death and just to save their souls…It’s Judgment Day in Aleppo,” said Abu Amer Iqab, a former government employee in the Sukkari district in the heart of what was once the opposition-held enclave.
The fate of young men leaving eastern Aleppo has been a subject of argument between the two sides.
Opposition supporters have accused the regime of mass arrests and extrajudicial killings, which Damascus has denied despite much evidence to the contrary. The government accuses rebels of forcing people to fight for them and preventing them from leaving, which has been dismissed as propagadana.
The United Nations said last week it was concerned about reports that hundreds of young men had been detained upon leaving the opposition-held enclave, leading to fears they were being tortured or worse.