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    Buses and ambulances wait to evacuate civilians and rebels from eastern Aleppo, Syria December 15, 2016.

    Liberation of Aleppo 'Watershed Moment' Changing Course of History

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    While the liberation of the Syrian city of Aleppo from militants is expected to be completed in the near future, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday it would be a "watershed moment" that would change the course of history.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — "I think we will speak of the liberation of Aleppo as what was before the liberation and what will be after," Assad was quoted in a statement by his press service.

    Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with government forces fighting Syrian opposition groups striving to overthrow the president. Damascus is also fighting numerous extremist and terrorist groups such as the Jabhat Fatah al Sham and Daesh, both outlawed in Russia.

    Over the recent months, Aleppo became a major battleground in Syria with Damascus seeking to liberate the city divided into the western part held by the government and the eastern part controlled by the militants.

    LIBERATION OF ALEPPO

    On Tuesday, the Russian reconciliation center said that the Syrian government army was controlling over 98 percent of the territory of Aleppo, with militants present in less than 3 square kilometers (1.1 square mile).

    On Thursday, Russian General Staff said that the Syrian army and popular militia were finalizing the operation on the liberation of eastern Aleppo from terrorists, pushing the militants from a total of 105 neighborhoods.

    "As a result of the offensive, militants have been pushed from all district held under their control. The Syrian government forces have eliminated over 900 terrorists, destroyed dozens of pieces of heavy military equipment," the first deputy chief of the General Staff's Main Operational Department, Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir, said at a news briefing.

    At the same time, specialists conduct work on mine clearance and destruction of militants' ammunition.

    EVACUATION OF CIVILIANS

    The attempts to evacuate civilians from Aleppo have repeatedly failed due to militants preventing civilians from leaving the city by shelling the humanitarian corridors.

    On Wednesday, the militants in Salah al-Din district of Aleppo violated the agreement reached with the Syrian authorities on leaving the city and used the ceasefire to regroup and begin hostilities again. When the transport arrived at the previously agreed place, the militants began shelling the convoy. According to the statement of the Russian reconciliation center, the army repelled the attack and continued the operation to liberate the eastern Aleppo.

    On Thursday, Poznikhir said that over 108,000 civilians were taken to safe areas of Aleppo via humanitarian corridors.

    "Overall, 108,076 civilians, including 47,183 children, were taken via the organized humanitarian corridors to safe city areas," he said.

    MILITANTS

    While over 3,000 militants voluntarily left the Syrian city of Aleppo, with about half of them been pardoned, the withdrawal of the remaining militants and their families from the eastern parts of Aleppo was set to be organized the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation, in cooperation with the Syrian authorities.

    According to the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the militants are set to be taken out of the city by buses and ambulances through a special corridor to the city of Idlib. Representatives of international organizations have been invited to monitor the process.

    The two convoys of buses and ambulances carrying militants and their family members already reached the Al-Rashidin-4 sector, while the third convoy with evacuees has recently left the city of Aleppo.

    CALL FOR HUMANITARIAN AID

    On November 30, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Scott Craig told Sputnik that the UN plan on delivery of humanitarian aid to Eastern Aleppo was under negotiation with all parties involved in the Syrian conflict and necessary security guarantees had not been received to date.

    On December 8, Humanitarian Adviser to UN special envoy for Syria Jan Egeland said that the United Nations had already prepared food supplies for 150,000 people as well as aid workers to help residents of Aleppo’s western districts.

    However, Moscow considers that the UN organizations have not been active enough "in helping tens of thousands people who have lived under control of terrorists and in deprivation for years."

    On Thursday, Russia has called again on UN structures to immediately join efforts to provide humanitarian aid to Syrians.

    "We are urging relevant UN humanitarian structures to actively and immediately engage in the provision of the much needed humanitarian assistance to Syrians, in particular, the residents of Aleppo, liberated from gangs of terrorists and extremists," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    At the same time, France has called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Syria’s Aleppo to review humanitarian efforts. According to French Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre, the meeting could be held on Friday.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    history, liberation of Aleppo, Daesh, Viktor Poznikhir, Francois Delattre, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, Jan Egeland, Aleppo, Syria
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