Turning Point in Syria as Assad Regains All of Aleppo
BEIRUT — The evacuation of civilians and fighters from the last rebel-held part of Aleppo concluded Thursday after long delays because of frigid weather, putting all of Syria’s industrial capital back in the hands of President Bashar Assad’s forces for the first time since 2012.
The last buses carrying residents from eastern Aleppo left the city late Thursday night, according to the Syrian state news agency.
Tens of thousands of people have been removed from eastern Aleppo since Dec. 15. Before the last buses left on Thursday, the Red Cross said that 34,000 people had left the city, including 4,000 fighters who had left in their own vehicles the previous night.
A separate convoy was waiting to carry residents out of two pro-government villages in neighboring Idlib province that have been surrounded by rebels for years. It was unclear late Thursday whether the convoy had completed its trip.
The seizure of all of Aleppo by Assad and his allies signals a turning point in the nearly 6-year conflict.
Assad’s army relied heavily on foreign military support from Russia, Iran and Shiite militias like Lebanon’s Hezbollah to surround the rebel-held area. Months of shelling and airstrikes that killed hundreds of people and reduced entire neighborhoods to rubble finally routed the rebels and pushed the area’s inhabitants to leave under an agreement brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran.
Residents reached by phone and messaging apps after arriving in rebel-held areas described cold, disorderly conditions where many were struggling to find shelter.
“People went from one hell to another,” said Abdul-Nasser Nadaf, a rebel fighter who had left eastern Aleppo for Idlib province. “We are all tired and the displacement was really tough. The snow and cold made things worse.”
Under the agreement, civilians removed from eastern Aleppo could remain in government-controlled areas or continue on to rebel-held areas elsewhere. Most have ended up in Idlib, which already held many people displaced from elsewhere in Syria, raising concerns about the humanitarian situation there.
Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy to Syria, said Thursday that only a deal to end the war could prevent a repeat of the carnage in Aleppo and protect the displaced.
周四，联合国叙利亚问题特使斯塔凡·德米斯图拉(Staffan de Mistura)表示，只有达成结束战争的协议才能防止阿勒颇的血腥杀戮重演，并保护流离失所者。
“Many of them have gone to Idlib, which could be in theory the next Aleppo,” de Mistura told reporters in Geneva.