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SYRIA: U.S. and Al-Qaeda to accept Russian demands in Aleppo

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - MARCH 03: Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (L) watch a military exericises at Kamenka polygon on March 3, 2014 near Saint Petersburg, Russia. Ukrainian forces in Crimea have reportedly been issued with a deadline for surrender by the Russian military as it continues to mass equipment and personnel along the border. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

Even as confirmation is now received that ISIS is once again in control of Palmyra, reports are circulating of a joint US-Russian document which is supposedly being prepared, and which requires all remaining Jihadi fighters to quit eastern Aleppo within a period of 48 hours.

Supposedly work on this document is almost completed and the Al-Qaeda command in eastern Aleppo is signalling it will accept it.

This comes following reports that the Syrian army resumed its offensive in eastern Aleppo today, capturing several more districts from the Jihadi fighters there.

Earlier on Sunday the Russian military released another statement about the situation in Aleppo, confirming that still more civilians have fled the formerly Jihadi controlled areas, and that 1,324 Jihadi fighters have surrendered. 

“Around 1,324 militants have laid down their weapons and crossed into areas of the city to surrender to the Syrian government troops. In accordance with the Syrian president’s decision, 1,270 were granted amnesty.”

Presumably the 54 Jihadi fighters who have not been amnestied are ringleaders who are suspected of various crimes, and who have been arrested.

The Russian military now puts the number of civilians who have fled eastern Aleppo over the last 10 days at 78,000. 

This is a higher number than the 40,000 civilians estimated to be in the Jihadi controlled districts of eastern Aleppo by the Guardian journalist Martin Chulov, and is much higher than the 20,000 which some others have estimated.  However It is still far well short of the 200,000 to 250,000 estimated by the UN, which is the number of civilians in eastern Aleppo which has been commonly cited by the Western media.

The fact that so many civilians fled eastern Aleppo the moment Al-Qaeda’s control over them weakened confirms Russian, Syrian and Iranian claims that they were being kept there by force. 

US Secretary of State John Kerry has now admitted as much in an answer to a question put to him by RT in a press briefing though characteristically it seems that he puts the blame for this on the Syrian government and the Russians saying later that those he calls the “rebels” were given no choice

“It is true that there have been some occasions where certain elements of the opposition have threatened people who were going to leave [Aleppo], and in some cases prevented humanitarian assistance from being delivered.”

Some reports say Kerry put the blame for this on the Syrian government and the Russians, saying they gave those Kerry chooses to call the “rebels” “no choice”.  If Kerry really did say this then all I would say is that he would certainly not be so generous towards anyone acting in this way who was an enemy of the US.

The pending end of the battle of Aleppo will not end the Syrian war.  However it will leave the Syrian government in unchallenged control of all of Syria’s main cities and of the great majority of its population. 

As the events in Palmyra earlier today show, much bitter fighting remains to be done.  However as even the Western media is now grudgingly admitting, the danger of regime change in Syria is over.

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