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Following the rapid succession of defeats the Al-Qaeda led Jihadis have suffered in eastern Aleppo, reports are circulating of growing rifts amongst the Jihadis in the city, with Al-Qaeda led Jihadis said to have stormed the bases of two Jihadi groups whom they accuse of being in talks to surrender to the Syrian government.
This of course follows reports of discussions in Ankara between the Russians and Jihadi representatives concerning the withdrawal of Jihadi forces from eastern Aleppo, as well as Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s disclosure that US Secretary of State Kerry offered to arrange the same thing in Geneva two days ago.
This news comes alongside reports – repeated by the Iranian news agency Fars – that Jihadi commanders in eastern Aleppo have sent a message to Sheikh Abdullah Muhammad al-Muhaysini (the Saudi cleric who is the nominal head of the so-called ‘Army of Conquest’ – the Jihadi umbrella that supposedly brings together all the Jihadi groups (including Al-Qaeda) in northwest Syria) that unless outside forces intervene to rescue them within the next two days, then all Jihadi resistance in Aleppo will collapse.
The Syrian government for its part seems to be anticipating a rather longer timescale for the final defeat of the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo. The Al-Masdar news agency, which has close connections to the Syrian authorities, says the Syrian military has dropped more leaflets on eastern Aleppo calling on the Jihadis to surrender, and is predicting their total defeat “within weeks”.
Regardless of who is correct about the timescale, it is now clear that the battle in Aleppo is indeed now in its endgame and that diplomacy has now been overtaken by the events on the ground. It is difficult to see how any diplomatic initiative whether in Geneva or Ankara can now have any bearing on the outcome or bear fruit before the battle is over.