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    Members of the Syrian Civil Defence, known as the White Helmets, search for victims amid the rubble of a destroyed building following reported air strikes in the rebel-held Qatarji neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo, on October 17, 2016.

    Aleppo Could Be Reclaimed by Damascus Soon, Most Residents Want Opposition Out

    © AFP 2019 / KARAM AL-MASRI
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    As the UN announces its investigation into Damascus and Moscow’s alleged “war crimes” in Aleppo, and continues to ignore Western support for groups like al-Nusra, Syrian government forces have continued their push to liberate the eastern part of the city from so-called “moderates.”

    Syrian reporter Alaa Ebrahim, currently in Damascus, observed that, during the latest humanitarian pause in Aleppo, Russian forces have been “heavily invested” in successfully evacuating civilians from the eastern part of the city.

    The truce was also designed to let rebels leave the city for the Idlib Province in the northwest of the country, an area they currently occupy. But opposition forces, headed by al-Nusra Front, have been preventing civilians from leaving the city over the weekend, the journalist noted.

    “They [al-Nusra fighters] need larger numbers [of people] to justify why they need more aid [from the Western allies] and the [Syrian] government to stop attacking them,” Ebrahim told Sputnik’s Loud & Clear host Brian Becker.

    The UN and opposition forces estimate that some 250,000 civilians are now in the eastern part of Aleppo. Ebrahim detailed that the number of civilians is exaggerated for political reasons, and put the actual number at about 100,000 people.

    “Many people [in Aleppo] support the Syrian government because this is the side that is capable of providing basic services,” including electricity and water, he added.

    Residents have been living under extremist control for four years, and it is suggested that they have been brainwashed by intensive propaganda and violence, and are afraid to side with the government for fear of persecution, he added.

    “The majority of residents of Eastern Aleppo want the rebels to leave that part of the city,” he said, noting that, “They also understand that fighters cannot relinquish easily through eastern Aleppo. Once Aleppo is lost for rebels, this could be a turning point for the war.”

    Speaking about rebel manpower in Aleppo, Ebrahim suggested that 8,000 to 10,000 fighters control the eastern part of the city, and that it is not known whether they enjoy any civilian support.

    The opposition’s only hope now, the reporter suggested, is an American intervention on their behalf.

    “Many opposition sources have told me that they’re rooting for Hillary Clinton [in the presidential race] because they feel if she was in the Oval Office, she would have provided necessary assistance – boots on the ground.”

    In the meantime, the humanitarian situation in one of Syria’s major cities remains dire. A million residents in Western Aleppo are said to be currently besieged. In the event of a full offensive, there will be collateral damage among civilians, Ebrahim asserted, adding that many civilians risked leaving the city in spite of constant shelling and sniping.

    The Syrian government, backed by the Russian Air Force, has an advantage in the situation and could liberate Aleppo in the coming months, however.

    “There’s a high possibility that the city could be retaken completely from the hands of rebel fighters in early 2017. The government controls 75 per cent of the city and over half of Aleppo province,” Ebrahim stated.

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    Tags:
    moderate opposition, 2016 US Presidential Run, Al-Nusra Front, Hillary Clinton, Syria, United States, Russia, Aleppo, Damascus
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