Assad regime announced on Thursday that Aleppo has been fully captured by its forces after the last rebel fighters were evacuated from the city, ending long months of siege, heavy clashes, and humanitarian disaster.
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 since the start of 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, encircling 275.000 civilians and launching a major assault in September that killed hundreds of civilians but was blocked by the rebels.
A new offensive was announced on 15 November, in which Assad regime and its allies used the most brutal tactics that the Syrian war witnessed.
The long months of crippling siege, starvation policy, daily bombardment, fierce clashes and bloody massacres ended when the Assad regime and its allies were able to oblige the rebels in Aleppo to surrender and make an agreement to leave the area they have been holding since 2012 after losing more than 90% of it.
More than 1500 civilians were killed and thousands were injured from September until the announcement of the ceasefire, and the residents had lived in great deprivation without functioning hospitals and with little electricity and water in freezing winter conditions.
The ceasefire agreement was a result of talks between Russia and Turkey.
As part of an agreement between Turkey and Russia, tens of thousands of rebels and civilians were supposed to be evacuated from eastern Aleppo to rebel-held Idlib, allowing the Assad regime to take full control of the city after years of fighting.
The world watched the Syrian civilians being killed for years, and the only solution it came with was to send the civilians out of their land instead of protecting them and forcing Assad regime to stop its offensive.
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) December 13, 2016
Last rebels and civilians leave Aleppo
Since last Tuesday, the ceasefire agreement was breached many times and the evacuation of civilians blocked by Iran-backed militias, until it was finally allowed again on Sunday in return to the evacuation of Shiite civilians from areas besieged by the rebels.
The operation was continued on Monday on a wider scale, as thousands of civilians have been evacuated from besieged east Aleppo and thousands more are preparing to leave.
The evacuation of east Aleppo has been completed on Thursday with the last group of rebels and their families holed up in a small enclave in eastern Aleppo was evacuated, whose numbers were about 4000.
The last evacuations bring the total number of people who have left east Aleppo in the last week to a little over 40,000, in one of the biggest mass displacement operation the region ever witnessed.
What did Aleppo civilians say
The civilians and journalists in Aleppo expressed their grave sadness about losing their homeland and being forcibly evacuated from it by an international agreement, instead of being protected and being able to live safely in their homeland.
The activists published photos of the humanitarian crisis, asking the world not to forget, as they will never do, nor they will never forgive.
They also expressed sadness over the invasion of their homesland by the Iranians, who Assad regime brought to aid him in ending the revolution in return to allowing them to achieve their long awaited dream of demographic change in Syria.
— Ahmad Alkhatib (@AhmadAlkhtiib) December 13, 2016
— Ahmad Alkhatib (@AhmadAlkhtiib) December 22, 2016
Dear world you'll be comfortable in the coming days, You will not hear anything from #Aleppo, The people has been forced displaced
— Ahmad Alkhatib (@AhmadAlkhtiib) December 22, 2016
— Zouhir_AlShimale (@ZouhirAlShimale) December 22, 2016
The civilians of Aleppo also left messages to the world before leaving. they painted their last cries, and condemnation, and last dreams.
Cries about a city which they watched being burnt and destroyed, Condemnations of the evacuation fate they ended to, and dreams of returning one day to rebuild Aleppo again.
The next photos show some of these messages.
Capturing eastern Aleppo is 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 is a victory for his allies too, Russia and Iran, which have outmaneuvered the West and Assad’s regional enemies through direct military intervention.
For Assad regime, taking back Aleppo will help 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.
The fate of rebel-held Aleppo spells the abject failure of the west’s contradictory and piecemeal policies. It is a humiliation for the UN. Its fall will be an unequivocal victory for Russian strategy, and the shameful and humiliating defeat for all those who said they stand with the civilians and left them to face annihilation including US, Turkey and all Arab states.