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ALEPPO: Russia rejects talks, battle in “final stages” as more Jihadis surrender

Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad flash victory signs as they stand at a military complex, after they recaptured areas in southwestern Aleppo on Sunday that rebels had seized last month, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on September 5, 2016. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Yesterday’s talk of a joint US-Russian agreement for the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo to withdraw to leave the city appears to have come to nothing.

For once it appears to be the Russians who are dragging their feet on the negotiations.  With the Syrian army on the attack, with more districts falling under the Syrian army’s control, and with more and more Jihadi fighters surrendering, the Russians appear to have lost interest in negotiating about Aleppo with the US.

Two days ago I said that I had got the impression that the Russians were merely going through the motions of negotiating about Aleppo with the US. 

“Whilst it is true that Lavrov and Kerry are once more in contact with each other, and whilst it is also true that in what looks like a desperate attempt to gain time Kerry has once again promised to withdraw the Jihadis from Aleppo, my opinion is that Lavrov and the Russians are simply going through the motions of engaging with Kerry, and these diplomatic contacts are now all but irrelevant.

The Russians and the Syrians are not waiting for Kerry.  They are waiting for the civilians to leave before they round up whatever Jihadis are left.”

Latest reports from Aleppo appear to confirm that that assessment was right.

That the Russians now intend the Syrian army’s offensive to continue until final victory appears to be confirmed by a comment today of Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, who is a member of the Security Council, the Russian leadership’s top decision making body.  She is reported by the Russian news agency Interfax as saying the following

“Thanks to the active actions taken by Russia to support the Syrian army, a large portion of the territory was cleansed from terrorists. Now I believe the future of Syria is being decided in eastern Aleppo.

Stopping the counterterrorist operation means making a pause during which the militants will regroup, re-arm and start killing civilians even more fiercely.

“We cannot let that happen. The counterterrorist operation in eastern Aleppo should be completed, the city should be fully cleansed from militants and peaceful life should begin there.”

Meanwhile Al-Masdar is reporting that the Syrian army over the course of today established full control of the Karm Dada, Al-Furdos, and Al-Salheen districts of eastern Aleppo, whilst the Russian military now puts the total number of Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo who have surrendered at 2,200, and the number of civilians evacuated from eastern Aleppo at 100,000, of whom 40,000 are children.

Reuters reports Lieutenant General Zaid al-Saleh of the Syrian army saying that the fighting in eastern Aleppo is in its “final stages” and it also reports several Al-Qaeda commanders in eastern Aleppo agreeing with him.

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