Rebel resistance in Syria’s Aleppo ended on Tuesday after years of fighting and months of bitter siege and bombardment that culminated in a bloody collapse of their defenses this week, as insurgents agreed to withdraw in a ceasefire.
Rebel officials said fighting would end on Tuesday evening and insurgents and the civilians who have been trapped in the tiny pocket of territory they hold in Aleppo would leave the city for opposition-held areas of the countryside to the west.
News of the deal, confirmed by Russia’s U.N. envoy, came after the United Nations voiced deep concern about reports it had received of Syrian soldiers and allied Iraqi fighters summarily shooting dead 82 people in recaptured east Aleppo districts. It accused them of “slaughter”.
“My latest information is that they indeed have an arrangement achieved on the ground that the fighters are going to leave the city,” Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters. It could happen “within hours maybe”, he said.
A surrender or withdrawal of the rebels from Aleppo would mean the end of the rebellion in the city, Syria’s largest until the outbreak of war after mass protests in 2011.
By finally dousing the last embers of resistance burning in Aleppo, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military coalition of the army, Russian air power and Iran-backed militias will have delivered him his biggest battlefield victory of the war.