Syrian President assures victory in Aleppo

Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad pledges to continue war against the rebels.

Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad has said a victory for his army in Aleppo would be a “huge step” towards ending the country’s five-year civil war.

Assad also said that the defeat of rebel groups in the northern city would not end the conflict.

The rebels called for a five-day truce to allow the evacuation of civilians, after withdrawing from their last strongholds in Aleppo’s Old City.

‘No truce’
But Mr Assad ruled out any ceasefires, as his army continues its offensive.

This is despite new calls for an immediate truce from the US and five Western powers.

In an interview with Syria’s al-Watan newspaper, President Assad said: “It’s true that Aleppo will be a win for us, but let’s be realistic – it won’t mean the end of the war in Syria. But it will be a huge step towards this end. Terrorists are present elsewhere. Even if we finish with Aleppo, we will continue our war against them.”

Rebel-held districts in east Aleppo are falling fast, faster than expected.

Reports say the district of Al-Shaar, cleared on Tuesday to enable the army’s assault on the Old City, is now in utter ruin.

The smoke of battle still hung in the air a day later as did the residue of explosives.

There are also reports of deals to allow rebel fighters to retreat, including from the Old City.

But the most battle hardened fighters, including forces known as the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front are vowing to fight on in what remains of the opposition enclave.

The Syrian military and its Russian and Iranian allies, aren’t listening to calls for a truce, or even for humanitarian corridors.

Monday’s mortar attack on Russia’s field hospital is said to have stiffened Moscow’s resolve to finish the battle for Aleppo as soon as possible.

Trapped
Tens of thousands of civilians are still trapped in rebel-held districts of south-eastern Aleppo.

The rebel groups said those residents were in great danger, adding that they would support any initiative to ease their suffering.

Government forces now control about 75% of eastern Aleppo, held by the rebels for the past four years.

The rebels, who had been left with just a spit of land north-east of the citadel after recent government advances, had abandoned it by Wednesday morning, retreating to territory they still hold further south.

BBC/Sammie