Turkey and Russia said on Thursday they agreed on the need for a ceasefire and a halt to fighting in Aleppo as the humanitarian situation became worse than ever with more than 30.000 civilians fleeing east Aleppo, but the idea seems useful as Russia promised to continue the military operations.
The Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shi’ite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, has been tightening its grip on rebel-held districts of Aleppo this year.
They have gradually closed in on eastern Aleppo this year, first cutting the most direct lifeline to Turkey before fully encircling the east, and launching a major assault in September.
Assad regime forces started a major offensive to push opposition fighters out of the besieged eastern half of the city on 15 September.
Helicopters continue extensively dropping barrel bombs in conjunction with airstrikes by warplanes on areas in the eastern neighborhoods of the city, accompanied by artillery shelling by the regime forces in the same places.
The regime’s forces’ persistent and the intensive airstrikes forced the rebels to leave the areas they hold.
On Monday 28 November, government forces seized the Sakhur, Haydariya, and Sheikh Khodr districts, and Kurdish fighters took the Sheikh Fares neighborhood from rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.
Rebels have lost most of the northern neighborhoods in besieged east Aleppo, it added, as the army pushed an offensive to retake the whole of Syria’s second city.
“The rebels have lost control of all the neighborhoods in the north of east Aleppo, and this is their worst defeat since they seized half the city in 2012,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
Around 30.000 thousands of civilians left their homes fleeing the extreme bombardment and the clashes in the eastern parts of Aleppo in the last days, while voices around the globe have been calling for an end of this blood bath.
A ceasefire in Aleppo
Turkey and Russia, two of the main backers of opposing sides in the Syrian crisis have agreed on the need for a halt to fighting and the provision of aid in Aleppo.
The negotiations have been under way in Ankara for a week. The deal on the table involves a ceasefire and an opening of corridors for delivering humanitarian aid in return for the withdrawal of rebels from the city.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he and his visiting Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov agreed on the need for a ceasefire in Aleppo, but added that Turkey’s stance on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was unchanged.
“A ceasefire must be achieved in all of Syria, notably in Aleppo,” Cavusoglu told a joint news conference in the Mediterranean town of Alanya, adding Turkey was in agreement with Russia in broad terms on the need for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid and political transition.
“We will continue to pursue a policy that is harmonic and coincides with the position of Russia – to search for and find a political solution to the conflict and to provide systematic humanitarian assistance,”Cavusoglu said.
Lavrov said the bloodshed must stop in Syria and the region, that Moscow was ready to talk to all parties in the war, and that it would continue cooperating with Turkey.
Lavrov has confirmed that the Russians are actively talking to the Syrian opposition in Aleppo to try to establish some form of truce and also some form of “humanitarian access”
However, he also vowed Russia would continue its operations in eastern Aleppo and would rescue the city from what he described as “terrorists”, meaning that this ceasefire will take place only after the rebels defeat or their surrender.
Such a ceasefire will not save anything or ease the suffer of the civilians as the whole world asks. on the contrary, it will put give Russia and Assad a license to keep bombing Aleppo, destroying it to the ground and killing more of its civilians while appearing in the end as the heroes who agreed to end stop the war after nothing is left to fight for and dance on the rubble and dead bodies.
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) November 30, 2016
— Ahmad Alkhatib (@AhmadAlkhtiib) November 30, 2016
Capturing eastern Aleppo would be the biggest victory for Assad regime since the start of the revolution against him in 2011, restoring his control over the whole city apart from a Kurdish-held area that has not fought against him.
It would also be seen as a victory for his allies, Russia and Iran, which have outmaneuvered the West and Assad’s regional enemies through direct military intervention.
For Assad regime, taking back Aleppo would make its forces focus on ending the remaining rebels-held areas. These areas include the rebels’ stronghold in Idlib in addition to isolated areas in rural Damascus, Homs, and Hama.
These areas have been under daily bombardment and crippling siege for years. The Old city of Homs and parts of rural Damascus has already been lost to Assad regime, and the remaining areas are expected to follow.
As a conclusion, defeating the rebels and retrieving Aleppo means destroying the last major resistance stronghold of the Syrian rebels and will lead eventually to the victory of Assad regime and ending the Syrian revolution.