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West Wants to Stop Syrian Army’s Gains Against Terrorists: Assad

Planned evacuation of Aleppo’s rebel districts stalled on Wednesday as air strikes and heavy shelling hit the city

Published
World
2 min read

As the battle of Aleppo continues and Syrian President Bashar-al Assad’s army crushes the rebel resistance in the city with the support of Russia and Iran, Assad met with Ruptly TV and spoke about the Western countries’ push to end the violence and establish a ceasefire. He said the West wants Russia to stop the Syrian Army’s advancements against terrorists.

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The planned evacuation of rebel districts of Aleppo stalled on Wednesday as air strikes and heavy shelling hit the city and Iran was said to have imposed new conditions on the deal.

Iran, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's main backers in the battle that has all but ended four years of rebel resistance in the city, wanted a simultaneous evacuation of the wounded from two villages, Foua and Kefraya, that are besieged by rebel fighters, according to rebel and UN sources.

Rebel groups said that was just an excuse to hold up the evacuation from a shrunken insurgent enclave shattered by a powerful government offensive. A pro-opposition TV station said the operation could now be delayed until Thursday.

A ceasefire brokered on Tuesday by Russia, Assad's most powerful ally, and Turkey, was intended to end years of fighting in the city, giving the Syrian leader his biggest victory in more than five years of war.

But air strikes, shelling, and gunfire erupted on Wednesday and Turkey accused government forces of breaking the truce. Syrian state television said rebel shelling had killed six people.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, however, that rebel resistance was likely to end in the next two or three days.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan will discuss Aleppo later on Wednesday, the Kremlin was quoted as saying.

Officials in the military alliance backing Assad could not be reached immediately for comment on why the evacuation, expected to start in the early hours of Wednesday, had stalled.

Nobody had left by dawn under the plan, according to a Reuters witness waiting at the departure point, where 20 buses stood with engines running but showed no sign of moving into rebel districts.

People in eastern Aleppo packed their bags and burned personal belongings, fearing looting by the Syrian army and its Iranian-backed militia allies.

In what appeared to be a separate development from the planned evacuation, the Russian defence ministry said 6,000 civilians and 366 fighters had left rebel-held districts over the past 24 hours.

A total of 15,000 people, including 4,000 rebel fighters, wanted to leave Aleppo, according to a media unit run by the Syrian government's ally Hezbollah.

(With Reuters inputs.)

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