Over 360 militants lay down arms in Aleppo
Hundreds of foreign-backed militants have laid down arms in Aleppo in the past 24 hours during which almost 6,000 civilians left terrorist-held districts of the Syrian city, the Russian Defense Ministry says.
The ministry also said Wednesday that over the same period 366 terrorists had laid down their arms and moved out of militant-controlled parts of the city.
The evacuations follow a ceasefire deal, brokered by Russia and Turkey, under which the militants were to start leaving from Aleppo along with civilians in the early hours of Wednesday.
Russia, however, said the terrorists resumed fighting at dawn, but that Syrian government forces repelled their attacks, the Interfax news agency reported.
Syrian state television said militant rocket fire on government-held parts of Aleppo killed seven people and wounded others after fighting resumed and the evacuation deal was suspended.
Six people were killed and others wounded in the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, with a seventh person killed and more wounded in other government-held parts of the city, the television said.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the Syrian army was continuing its operation to quash last pockets of resistance in the districts of Aleppo where foreign-backed were still in control.
“The attack by the terrorists was warded off. The Syrian army continued its operation to liberate the eastern districts of Aleppo controlled by the rebels,” the ministry said in a statement.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia expects terrorist resistance in Aleppo to end in the next two to three days.
“I expect that the rebels will stop their resistance in the next two to three days,” he said. “I hope that the situation in eastern Aleppo will be resolved in two to three days.”
The evacuation was the culmination of two weeks of rapid advances by the Syrian army and its allies that drove terrorists back into an ever-smaller pocket of the city.
By taking full control of Aleppo, President Bashar al-Assad has proved the power of the Syrian army. Militant groups have been supported by the United States, Turkey and Persian Gulf monarchies.
The government and its allies have focused the bulk of their firepower on fighting ministers in western Syria rather than Daesh, which this week managed to take back the ancient city of Palmyra.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday the unwillingness of the US to work with Moscow in Syria helped the fall of Palmyra.
The US and its allies look to have sought to take the shine off Syria’s game-changing victories in Aleppo.
Russian officials say the US had stopped attacking Daesh in Raqqah, allowing the Takfiri group to mobilize for the sudden Palmyra attack while thousands of the terrorists had traveled from the Iraqi city of Mosul to participate in the offensive.
Elsewhere in Syria, as many as 1,500 militants laid down arms in a southern suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus under an amnesty law issued by President Assad, the official SANA news agency said.
The gunmen surrendered their weapons in the village of Kanaker in the Rif Dimashq Province and checked at rehabilitation centers.
‘Militants dumping secret documents’
With the fight in Aleppo drawing to a close, sources on the ground said the militants had set fire to their operation bases to get rid of secret documents revealing their links to Western and regional sponsors, the Fars News Agency reported.
Terrorists with the US-backed Nour al-Din al-Zenki militant group had torched schools and residential buildings in the southeastern neighborhoods of Aleppo before leaving the city, the sources told the news agency.
According to the report, the burnt documents included information on terror groups’ ties with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, among other foreign parties.
‘Aleppo returned to nation’
Syria’s UN envoy Bashar al-Ja’afari strongly denied reports of “summary killings” by the army in the areas formerly-held by the terrorists.
He made the comments after an Associated Press reported cited sources linked to militants in Aleppo as saying that government forces had carried out “summary killings” and “mass executions” in neighborhoods recaptured on Monday.
The agency, however, added “none of the residents witnessed the alleged killings, and the reports came amid deepening chaos” in the remaining militant-held areas.
Ja’afari further said “Aleppo has been liberated from terrorists and those who toyed with terrorism,” adding, “Aleppo has returned to the nation.”
The Syrian military also denied the claims, saying such allegations were “a desperate attempt” to gain international sympathy.
Militant revenge attacks
Since the start of the Aleppo battle, the militants have stepped up indiscriminate attacks against government-held parts of the city and elsewhere in the country.
On Wednesday, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Takfiri militants had launched deadly mortar attacks against Aleppo’s Jam’iat Zahra and Masjid al-Rahman districts.
The attacks killed four civilians, including two girls, and injured several others.
Separately, the monitor said the Takfiri terror group of Daesh had killed a woman and her child in an attack in the eastern Syria city of Dayr al-Zawr.