Written by Alexander Mercouris; Originally appeared at TheDuran
As is commonly the case in attrition war, the end in Aleppo is coming quickly. Throughout the last 12 hours reports have been pouring in of more and more formerly Al-Qaeda held districts of eastern Aleppo falling to the Syrian army.
“The Syrian army troops and Hezbollah resistance fighters managed to take control of al-Jadideh district and immediately moved in several directions to beat terrorists back from their positions in al-Kelaseh, Bab al-Maqam, al-Fardos and Karm al-Deada districts after fortifying their positions in vast areas of al-Salehin district.
The terrorists have so far lost over 40 districts and neighbourhoods in Eastern Aleppo and are now in control of only very few districts stretching over an area 7 sq/km or less than 10 percent of what was once their territory for 5 years until this last Summer.
If the Syrian government forces manage to seize back Karm al-Deada, al-Fardos and al-Kelaseh districts, the terrorists who are in Sheikh Saeed district will come under the Syrian army’s full siege from the Northern and Eastern directions and this region will fall as well,” a battlefield source explained on Wednesday evening.
The source went on to say that the Syrian government troops are likely to be faced with some tough resistance in Sheikh Saeed district which is considered the Southern gate of Aleppo city in the South-East.
The clashes are still underway at the Regional Power Company of Sheikh Saeed in the Eastern part of this vital district.
The army units also started a new front in the region after winning back Bab an-Nayrab and advanced towards al-Asliyeh district from Western Bab an-Nayrab and advanced towards Bab al-Maqam district from al-Salehin square.
The latest reports coming from Northwestern Syria said on Wednesday evening that terrorists are still on the run and surrender districts in Southeastern Aleppo without serious resistance as the army’s swift advances have gathered even more pace.
Army units seized back Ma’adi district and its surrounding areas South of Aleppo’s historical citadel after they recaptured Bab an-Nayrab region.
The army also won back al-Qasiliah and Jbb al-Quebeh districts Southeast of the citadel.
War is now underway further in the South near the rims of the city in al-Salehin district, where the army has already captured the Eastern neighbourhoods. The terrorists have reportedly taken shelter in the Western parts of the vast district after they escaped from the Old Aleppo quarter that has the Citadel of Aleppo at its centre.
An army colonel said estimates show that al-Salehin district will fall to the government troops in the next few hours.
The Syrian forces also took control of Bab al-Nasr, al-Khandaq road, al-Hamidiyeh, Nour Eddin al-Zanki Street and al-Mashatiyeh in Southeastern Aleppo.
Earlier today, field sources disclosed that the Syrian Army troops and popular forces were in control of at least 85 percent of Eastern Aleppo districts, hitting hard the positions of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists in the few remaining districts still under their control.”
The pace of events is so fast that even the Russian military is having difficulty keeping up. The Russian military’s Reconciliation Centre at Russia’s Khmeimim air base in Syria issued a few hours ago the following statement
“In the past 24 hours, on December 7, the Syrian army liberated 15 districts of eastern Aleppo from militants. Hence, 50 districts of the city’s eastern part are now under control of the Syrian authorities, which makes about 70% of the territory earlier controlled by militants.”
At the time this statement was issued (roughly 20:00 hours UTC on 7th December 2016) it was already out of date. By that time the Syrian army was in reality in control of at least 85% of the former Al-Qaeda controlled pocket of eastern Aleppo (see the Fars report above) – not 70% – with many Jihadi fighters surrendering (many more than the 66 separately claimed by the Russian military) and with the remaining Jihadi fighters still resisting being driven ever deeper into what is left of their pocket.
The Syrian army’s objective according to Fars is to bottle the remaining Jihadis up into a single district where it will be easier to round them up.
These dramatic events would not however be complete were they not accompanied by an element of farce.
Over the course of the day the Al-Qaeda led command of the remaining Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo has asked the Syrian military for a 5 day ceasefire to evacuate civilians and wounded fighters and to allow humanitarian aid to get through. The request has been accompanied by a request that the wounded fighters be sent to Turkey rather than Idlib. Importantly it makes no reference to the remaining Jihadi fighters leaving eastern Aleppo – the consistent Russian demand since the summer – with the implication being that they will be left to stay where they are.
This request unsurprisingly has been backed by the Western powers and by the UN Secretariat. Indeed it purports to be a Jihadi response to a four point plan for a ceasefire put forward by the humanitarian agencies of the UN Secretariat.
In reality there is no doubt the UN Secretariat, Western governments, and the Idlib based Al-Qaeda command of the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo, have been coordinating their moves with each throughout the day.
Recent events on the ground in Aleppo have however rendered this all meaningless. The statement the Western governments published a few hours ago is in fact one of the most preposterous documents anyone has published over the course of the whole Syrian war.
In order to get a proper feel of this statement, and since the text of this statement is not easy to find on the Internet, I reproduce it here in full:
“A humanitarian disaster is taking place before our very eyes. Some 200,000 civilians, including many children, in eastern Aleppo are cut off from food and medicine supplies. Aleppo is being subjected to daily bombings and artillery attacks by the Syrian regime, supported by Russia and Iran. Hospitals and schools have not been spared. Rather, they appear to be the targets of attack in an attempt to wear people down. The images of dying children are heart breaking. We condemn the actions of the Syrian regime and its foreign backers, especially Russia, for their obstruction of humanitarian aid, and strongly condemn the Syrian regime’s attacks that have devastated civilians and medical facilities and use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons.
The urgent need now is for an immediate ceasefire to allow the United Nations to get humanitarian assistance to people in eastern Aleppo and to provide humanitarian relief to those who have fled eastern Aleppo. The opposition have agreed the UN’s four point plan for Aleppo. The regime needs to agree to the plan too. We call on the Syrian regime to do this urgently to alleviate the dire situation in Aleppo; and call on Russia and Iran to use their influence to help make this happen.
We urge all parties in Syria to adhere to international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions. UN SG Ban Ki-moon has spoken about war crimes being committed in Syria. There must not be impunity for those responsible. We call on the UN to investigate respective reports and gather evidence to hold the perpetrators of war crimes to account. We are ready to consider additional restrictive measures against individuals and entities that act for or on behalf of the Syrian regime.
At the same time, Russia is blocking the UN Security Council, which is therefore unable to do its work and put an end to the atrocities. The regime’s refusal to engage in a serious political process also highlights the unwillingness of both Russia and Iran to work for a political solution despite their assurances to the contrary. We support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy de Mistura to resume the political process through negotiations. Only a political settlement can bring peace for people in Syria.”
This bizarre statement – signed by six leaders of whom three (Obama, Hollande and Renzi) are about to leave office and are therefore in no position to act on the threats they make in it – was presumably largely drafted some days ago, before the collapse of Jihadi resistance in eastern Aleppo rendered it meaningless.
It therefore assumes a situation which no longer exists. It talks about a humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo as if the siege of the Jihadi held districts were still ongoing. In reality the siege of most of these districts has ended because they are back in the hands of the Syrian army, and soon all of them will be. As the Syrians and the Russians are pointing out, that means that it is now possible to achieve humanitarian access to these districts without needing the Jihadis to agree to a ceasefire in order to do it.
The Jihadi and UN proposal for a 5 day ceasefire would undoubtedly have been accepted by the Syrian government and by the Russians had it been made a week ago.
Today with Jihadi resistance probably no more than hours away from total collapse, it is too obviously intended to break the momentum of the Syrian army’s advance and to staunch the flow of surrenders and desertions from the Jihadis’ ranks to be acceptable either to the Syrian government or to the Russians. Not surprisingly therefore both have rejected it.
Reports confirm that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told US Secretary of State Kerry as much when they met a few hours ago in Hamburg. In what must have been for Kerry a particularly cruel and humiliating moment, TASS reports Lavrov threw Kerry’s 2nd December 2016 proposal – that all Jihadi fighters leave eastern Aleppo – back into Kerry’s face, telling him that Russia is still prepared to accept it, hours after the US backtracked on it. Of course with Jihadi resistance in Aleppo collapsing even this proposal is all but meaningless now.
What these latest diplomatic moves in fact show is the delusional world in which Western governments now live in in relation to anything that touches on the Syrian conflict.
If Western governments were really concerned to end the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo they would not be calling for a ceasefire. They would be calling on the remaining Jihadis still fighting in Aleppo – whose continued resistance is now useless – to surrender and immediately leave the city so that humanitarian aid can be sent there without further hindrance.
That however is something Western governments – still obsessed by fantasies of regime change, and still trapped by the false propaganda narrative they have woven together over the last few months – cannot bring themselves to do.