Syria conflict: Aleppo defeat 'not the end for rebels'

Ahmet Uzumcu director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons stresses that
Syria conflict: Aleppo defeat 'not the end for rebels'

29 November, 2016

"Given the Syrian government's long and dark history of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances on a mass scale it is even more crucial that civilians are protected in newly captured areas of Aleppo city", said Samah Hadid, a director at Amnesty International's Beirut office.

Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, on Monday, denounced accusations by "western" countries that it has used chemical weapons in the conflict as "a campaign of lies".

"Aleppo is an important place for the revolution but it's not the last place", he said.

A joint investigation with the United Nations determined this year that the Syrian government was behind three attacks involving chlorine gas and the Islamic State extremist group used mustard gas.

State TV said 3,000 people, half of them children, have fled in a few hours.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Monday that the previous day's airstrike on Hamidiyeh neighborhood in Deir el-Zour killed 18 and wounded others.

Officials with two Aleppo rebel groups said rebels had withdrawn to areas they could more easily defend, particularly after losing the Hanano housing complex area on Saturday.

Deir el-Zour is contested between government forces and IS. It was not immediately clear what warplanes were behind the latest airstrike.

The government gains have prompted an exodus of thousands of desperate civilians, some fleeing to districts held by the government or Kurdish forces, others heading south into areas still under opposition control.

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The Russian Defense Ministry also said Syrian government troops had pushed the rebels from Qadisia which it described as the "key neighborhood of eastern Aleppo". The Syrian army began an offensive in September supported by a relentless aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo. The government has made steady gains in Aleppo since Russian Federation intervened to bolster President Assad in September a year ago. German law allows prosecutions under the principle of universal jurisdiction, under which countries can pursue foreigners for crimes committed overseas. With Aleppo secure, Assad will be able to turn his attentions to the Damascus countryside and Idlib, the province next to Aleppo.

The top headlines from The YPG, a US ally in the war with Islamic State, has been hostile to the Aleppo rebel groups.

He cited the targeted bombing of hospitals, cluster bombs on civilians and forced expulsion.

Analysts say it is a devastating setback for the rebels, who seized the area in 2012.

"It is the biggest defeat for the opposition in Aleppo since 2012", he told Reuters.

On Monday, Takfiri militants lost northern neighborhoods in besieged east in Aleppo as the Syrian army and allies advance in offensive to take entire city, according to a report by Al Jazeera.

Almost 10,000 civilians have fled battered eastern Aleppo towards government-held districts and the Kurdish-controlled neighbourhood of Sheikh Maksoud, a monitoring group said Sunday.

Earlier this month, the first special operation to evacuate the citizens of eastern Aleppo was held.

Before the war, Aleppo was home to an estimated 2 million civilians, about 250,000 to 275,000 of whom live in areas held by anti-government forces who have been the focus of intense airstrikes and artillery bombardment.

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