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Al-Qaeda’s Aleppo pocket shrinks to 2.5 square kilometres, Russian military say

Following the Jihadi fighters’ failure to withdraw from eastern Aleppo this morning (as was agreed by Turkish intelligence) the collapse of Jihadi resistance appears once again to be accelerating.

According to Staffan de Mistura, the UN Secretary General’s envoy to Syria, there are only 1,500 Jihadi fighters left in eastern Aleppo who are still resisting.  If so then the majority of fighters have already surrendered to the Syrian army.

The Russian military and the Al-Mayadeen TV channel say 5,000 Jihadi fighters were supposed to leave eastern Aleppo in compliance with the Turkish brokered agreement this morning.  Whilst this suggests the number of Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo is higher than Staffan de Mistura’s estimate, it seems more likely that during the discussions leading up to last night’s agreement Al-Qaeda’s commanders claimed to have more fighters than they actually do.

Staffan de Mistura incidentally now says that a third of the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo – around 500 men – are hardcore fighters belonging to Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Jabhat Al-Nusra.  That may also be correct, and it is probably these people who are still putting up most of the remaining resistance.

The Russian military’s Reconciliation Centre at Khmeimim air base in a statement today meanwhile speaks of an accelerating collapse of what is left of Jihadi resistance in eastern Aleppo

“On Wednesday afternoon government troops crossed a water canal to have gained control of the Sukari neighborhood in eastern Aleppo. The area of the city still controlled by the militants has shrunk to 2.5 square kilometres.”

The situation is highly fluid.  We will keep the situation under close observation and provide regular updates.

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