The siege of Aleppo, Syria, continues as the combined forces of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Russia, and allied militias attempt to seize control of the city from rebel groups. The fierce fighting is the latest and most successful attempt by Assad’s forces to retake Aleppo from rebels that are considered by Assad loyalists, Russia, and many others, to be terrorists.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, this latest offensive into Aleppo, Syria, began in earnest on November 26, following a massive aerial bombardment campaign designed to soften up rebel targets within the city. On November 26 and 27, Syrian forces moved into Aleppo and seized several neighborhoods, including the Hanano housing district and the nearby Jabal Badro, both key rebel strongholds in Eastern Aleppo.
Prior to the assault, residents of Aleppo, Syria, were encouraged to leave the city, with Assad and Russian forces dropping leaflets warning of the airstrikes and imminent ground assault, and several cease-fire agreements designed to allow civilians to flee the city and for rebel fighters to lay down arms. However, few left Aleppo until the offensive began. After the start of the assault, thousands fled to government-controlled areas either within Aleppo, or on the outskirts of the city, as well as areas held by the Kurdish YPG, a group that has not been in a great deal of conflict with the Assad regime.
Just over a week later, BBC News reports that another key rebel district in Aleppo, Syria, has fallen to Assad’s forces, Tariq al-Bab. The news agency reports that Syrian army general Samir Sulaiman believes that Aleppo will fall to government forces in the next few weeks, and that roughly 50 percent of the rebel-held areas of East Aleppo are now under the control of Assad and allied forces. West Aleppo has also been a focal point in the ongoing assault, and the Assad forces expect to retake 60 percent of those areas in the next several days, according to General Sulaiman. Rebel forces are retreating rapidly into southern strongholds and enclaves on either side of the city.
A major concern in the international community is the fate of the thousands of civilians that still are trapped in Aleppo, Syria. Most hospitals in the area have been destroyed, abandoned, or poorly supplied, and reports are that many emergency procedures are being conducted without anesthetic. Food is so scarce that many have been reduced to scavenging in what was once one of the Middle East’s greatest cities, and the largest and most developed city in pre-war Syria. Some 30,000 people have been displaced in the latest round of hostilities in Aleppo.
Russia, a close Assad ally and a key player in the conflict, has indicated that it is ready to work with the United States and United Nations to negotiate an exodus of rebels from Aleppo, having previously attempted to secure amnesty for enemy fighters willing to lay down arms, Reuters reports.
“We are immediately ready to send out military experts, diplomats to Geneva in order to agree mutual actions with our American colleagues to ensure the pullout of all the rebels without exclusion from eastern Aleppo,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
The United Nations envoy, Staffan de Mistura, has stated that he also believes that Aleppo, Syria, will fall by the end of the year, and hopes a way can be found to avoid “a terrible battle.” The United Nations believes as many as 100,000 people are still trapped in the rebel-held areas of Aleppo.
[Featured Image by Hassan Ammar/AP Images]