Following the withdrawal of the last rebel fighters from the city, the Syrian army has announced that it has retaken complete control of Aleppo on December 22. After months of shelling and airstrikes by the Syrian army, an agreement, which was brokered by Russia, Turkey, and Iran routed the rebels and pushed the area’s inhabitants to leave. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed that “all civilians who wished to be evacuated have been, as well as the wounded and fighters.”
This victory of the army is considered to be its biggest one so far and it is an important turning point. It “represents a momentous victory for President Bashar al-Assad and a crushing defeat for Syria’s opposition,” reported Al Jazeera. With the fall of Aleppo into the hands of the Syrian army, the government is now in control of the country’s five main cities, including Homs, Hama, Damascus, and Latakia.
Aleppo is Syria’s largest city, where the rebels used to have over half of it. Therefore, controlling a major and strategic city like Aleppo in Syria was very important for the rebellions, while losing it also will have a great effect. Andrew Tabler, a writer at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued that the rebellions “attempt to hold it these last few years became sort of the heart of the revolution in many ways, particularly in the western part of the country.” As a result, the taking of Aleppo by the regime is a major setback for the rebels.
Yasser al-Youssef of the Nureddin al-Zinki rebel group considers the development to be “a great loss,” whereas “for the revolution, it [brought] a period of retreat and a difficult turning point.” On the other hand, the Syrian army takes the victory as a “strategic transformation and a turning point in the war,” which is a further incentive to “eradicate terrorism and restore security and stability to every span of the homeland.” In the same line, Syrian President Bashar Assad stated that his forces’ achievement is a “major step on the road to wiping out terrorism,” which may pave the way toward ending Syria’s civil war. The government usually refers to the rebels as “terrorists.”
However, with Syrian rebels still controlling large parts of the country there seems to be a long way towards the end of the Civil War. Above all, the arrival of thousands of refugees in Idlib from Aleppo aroused fears that the rebel-held city in northwestern Syria could face the same fate. Aleppo, which was Syria’s largest city, as well as its commercial and industrial hub before the uprising, had been divided into rebel and government parts since 2012. The Syrian army finally broke the deadlock this year with the help of Russia and other forces.
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