Syrian army ground forces and allies have liberated 52 blocks in the eastern parts of the city of Aleppo from the grip foreign-backed militants and are now in control of 93 percent of the whole northwestern city, Russia says.
“As a result of a successful advance, 52 districts of eastern Aleppo have been freed from militants,” Russian Defense Ministry official Sergei Rudskoi said in comments broadcast on state television on Friday.
“Over the past four days, territory controlled by militants decreased by one third. The Syrian army controls 93 percent of the city’s territory,” he added.
He said as many as 10,500 people have left eastern Aleppo in the last 24 hours, adding that the city’s residents have reported torture, public executions by the so-called moderate militants backed by the US and its allies.
“Civilians who escaped from terrorists talk about new crimes committed by militants of the so-called moderate opposition in eastern Aleppo. Cases of torture, public executions and massacres of the population have been confirmed,” the Russian official said.
Rudskoi noted that over 3,000 residents of the strategic city have so far returned to their houses and added that dozens of tonnes of humanitarian aid have been delivered to liberated Aleppo districts on a daily basis.
He further said more than 1,000 militants have surrendered arms and left eastern Aleppo while 953 of them have been granted amnesty.
“Thus, the Syrian government fully fulfills its obligations to help return participants of illegal armed groups to peaceful life,” the Russian general added.
Damascus has called on the militants holed up in Aleppo’s east to lay down arms and surrender. The Syrian president has ordered for those militants choosing to stop fighting to be granted amnesty.
Elsewhere, Rudskoi stressed that Russian and Syrian warplanes have not carried out any airstrike over Aleppo since October 18.
“I emphasize that such results [in Aleppo’s liberation] have been achieved only by Syrian army’s ground forces,” Rudskoi pointed out.
He further said that 21 facilities, including two schools and two mosques, have been cleared of explosive devices in Aleppo over the past 24 hours, adding that over 1,040 settlements have joined the ceasefire in Syria.
Syria has set up several humanitarian corridors to facilitate the exit of civilians from the eastern districts. Reports coming out of Aleppo say the terrorists are using people as human shields to slow the army’s advances.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement earlier on Friday that around 8,500 civilians have been evacuated from the militant-held eastern side of Aleppo via humanitarian corridors.
The statement added that there were 2,934 children among those evacuated from the occupied parts of Aleppo over the past 24 hours.
“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,” Assad said in an interview with al-Watan newspaper.
The recent army gains have flown in the face of the unstinting financial and military support, which many foreign states have been providing to the militants since 2011 to secure the ouster of President Assad.