The Russian government has announced the conclusion of military action in eastern Aleppo, and says the Syrian government is now in control of the city.
Journalist Karam al-Masri, a resident of Aleppo, told CNN news of the evacuation agreement was delivered via cell phone text messages from rebel leaders. He also stated the deal was reached after Turkey entered negotiations for a ceasefire, a detail confirmed by the Turkish Foreign Affairs ministry.
“Representatives of Russia, Turkey and Syrian rebel groups reached an agreement on Tuesday for the rebels to leave the last few pockets of the besieged city of Aleppo that they control,” the New York Times reports.
Those evacuations may begin as early as Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, although there is much confusion about exactly who will be permitted to leave, and under what terms. Rebel forces and human rights activists believe civilians will be able to evacuate, but the Russians are saying only rebel fighters can exit the city, because now that the rightful government is back in control, there is no reason for civilians to flee.
“Nobody is going to harm the civilians,” promised Russia’s envoy to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin. As the New York Times points out, that promise is fearfully hollow to many Aleppo residents, since the government is the deadly menace they are most worried about.
They have good reason to be afraid. Human-rights activists and U.N. observers have described the final days of the Aleppo…