Syrian Army declares Aleppo under full control, ‘return of security’ to city
The Syrian Army has regained control over all of Aleppo and has returnef “security and stability to the city,” the army's general command said. The Red Cross has confirmed that a complex operation to evacuate those who "wished" to leave has been completed.
The city has been liberated from "terrorism and terrorists" the statement said, as quoted by Syria's state SANA news agency.
Aleppo will now mark a turning point in the war against terrorism, the Syrian Army statement said. “It strikes a smashing blow to the forces that backed a terrorism plot against Syria,” the statement added.
"All civilians who wished to be evacuated have been, as well as [the] wounded and fighters," International Committee of the Red Cross spokeswoman Krista Armstrong said, according to Reuters.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Thursday that the liberation of Aleppo from terrorism is a victory not just for Syria but for all those who are effectively contributing to the fight against terrorism, including Iran and Russia.
“It is also a setback for all the countries that are hostile towards the Syrian people and that have used terrorism as a means [by which] to realize their interests,” he said.
A SANA reporter wrote previously on Thursday that the last stage of evacuating terrorists and their families from eastern Aleppo was underway.
A video provided by RT’s Lizzie Phelan, reporting from Aleppo, shows the army celebrating the victory. Constant firing can be heard in the background.
The battle for Aleppo lasted for almost half a year after the Syrian Army first encircled the militants and rebels ensconced in the city, in late July. In September, government forces conducted a major offensive and re-captured a number of neighborhoods previously controlled by the armed groups. The second major offensive was conducted in late November and early December. Eventually, government forces managed to take control of more than 90 percent of Aleppo's territory.
During the operation to liberate Aleppo, more than 78,000 civilians managed to flee eastern districts into government-controlled areas with help from the Russian Center for Reconciliation. In total, bomb disposal specialists have detected and destroyed about 1,340 explosive objects in eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo. Russian crews have also helped to restore over 20 buildings – schools, hospitals, mosques, power substations, water pumping stations, and bakeries among them, according to the center.
In early December, the Syrian government and armed groups reached a deal, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey. The deal envisaged the evacuation of the remaining rebels and militants and their family members through a humanitarian corridor set up by government forces.
Twenty passenger busses and 10 ambulances have been provided to evacuate those who wished to leave, while around 100 cars were used by the militants themselves. On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that a total of 20,000 people had been evacuated from Aleppo.