The Liberation of Aleppo and It’s Old City

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), led by Syria’s elite special Tiger Forces scored a number of decisive victories in East Aleppo this week. Soldiers continued in their efforts to liberate Aleppo through a sweep from the East, linking up with government forces on the western flank protecting Aleppo’s citadel. Other units mobilized from northern positions to cut off the remaining terrorists holed up in the northern sector of East Aleppo. Only a small number of neighbourhoods are left under the control of rebel forces. A settlement to transfer some of the remaining rebels may soon approach. 

Reported clashes in Sheikh Sa’ed, Bostan Qasr, and Zebdiyah are ongoing this morning, December 8, in the Aleppo pocket with the Syrian army gaining new ground. 

map of Syrian government forces advance on rebel positions in East Aleppo through the South and West (12/8/16)

Syrian government forces advance on rebel positions in East Aleppo through the South and West (12/8/16)

The capture of Aleppo’s Old City was a major victory, celebrated in Syria, across the Syrian diaspora and among friends of Syria. In 2012 a panic swept across Aleppo as millions departed while the terrorist army advanced on the city through the Turkish border and Idleb countryside with illicit weapons from foreign proxies seeking to punish Aleppo for standing with its government against the Islamist “revolution”.

Church bells rang joyously out across the city, of which 80% is now held by the Syrian government. A feeling of liberation is now sinking in for the residents, who are eager to return to a life of normalcy, rebuilding their city, and reconnect with family members that have been held under occupation in the east for years. Save World Heritage in Syria & Iraq!

Syrian Christian soldier prays at the Virgin Mary while protecting churches in Syria from sectarian rebels

Syrian Christian soldier prays at the Virgin Mary while protecting churches in Syria from sectarian rebels

For the first time in months for some, water,a greater amount of electricity, and internet access is being reported in the city by sources in West Aleppo. Rebels cut off the water supply for years to West Aleppo, but the Syrian government delivered the necessary rations throughout the siege.

Russia is on the ground distributing humanitarian aid, including food, water, and medical supplies to displaced residents of East Aleppo, some of which endured automatic machine gun fire by rebels who warned civilians not to leave their control and fate as human shields. The Russian forces are also helping with the cleanup after military operations, deploying demining units to make the city safe for residence again. Egypt has also sent sappers to help in the demining effort.

For those rebels who are reexamining whether they want to face off with the Syrian military in a final encounter on earth, surrenders have begun en masse. Some believe they will be bussed to Idleb, the Al Qaeda capital. Others are pleading  for a chance to lay down their arms and in turn receive amnesty and a return to civilian life.

President Bashar al-Assad is confident that the liberation of Aleppo is a sign of more victories ahead, but has warned against any euphoria. The liberation of Aleppo is not the end of the war. Major operations are still necessary to rid the nation of its terrorist infestation.

President Bashar Assad said in comments published Thursday that Syrian forces’ victory in the battle for Aleppo will be a “big gain” for his government but that it will not end of the country’s civil war.

There is, in Aleppo and other battlefields reason to be optimistic that the war has turned in the right direction. The final rebel enclaves in the suburbs outside Damascus, the ancient capital of the Syrian Arab Republic, are weakening daily as the security situation there improves for civilians. The pathetic last-minute U.N. Security Council resolution to shut down operations in East Aleppo were easily struck down by Russia and China. With the defeat of the resolution, the rebels will not have an opportunity to resupply their armaments and maintain their final foothold in the city. With that, the battle is nearly over and its only a matter of waiting for the Syrian army to choose the timing.

Aleppo proved to be a symbol of the nationalist spirit pulsing through Syria, the beating heart of the Arab World. A multi-ethnic, religiously tolerant, secular, republican government triumphed in the hearts and minds of Syrians. The Islamist Republic of Syria, advocating for radical ideas alien to Syria’s pluralist society is in full retreat. It’s financial backers and proxy powers have lost the will to push their agenda as the threat of terrorism across the world increases and becomes a threat to all.

Aleppo has much to be proud of. An ancient and industrious commercial trade route throughout history, the city was looted by rebels who sold the industrial equipment to the highest bidder. Rebels threatened to wipe Aleppo of its Christian; Syriac, Assyrian, Greek, and Armenian people as well as other minorities. Sunni Syrians, the majority of the city, were sent death threats for not joining the sectarian “revolution.”

Aleppo stood against all of this pressure–its industry and vibrancy will return. Religious minorities will continue to have a harmonious role as part of the very fabric of society. Sunnis have fought their sectarian counterparts in the Islamist ranks to defend their city and nation. These things were worth protecting. The values of Aleppo are the values of Syria. Its reconstruction will be a symbol that all of Syria will have a bright future ahead of it.

A Syrian soldier in victory after a fierce battle for Aleppo neighborhoods waves the Syrian Arab Army flag.

A Syrian soldier in victory after a fierce battle for Aleppo neighbourhoods.

4 thoughts on “The Liberation of Aleppo and It’s Old City

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