US Secretary of State John Kerry accused the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad of carrying out “nothing short of a massacre” in the northern city of Aleppo and asserted that Moscow and Damascus must make a “strategic decision” for peace. “And there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for the indiscriminate and savage brutality against civilians shown by the regime and by its Russian and Iranian allies over the past few weeks or indeed for the past five years.” / “And the Assad regime is actually carrying out nothing short of a massacre. And we have witnessed indiscriminate slaughter, not accidents of war, not collateral damage, but frankly purposeful. a cynical policy of terrorizing civilians,” said Kerry.
After a Russian-brokered ceasefire was re-instated in the city of Aleppo, an operation to evacuate thousands of civilians and militants began from the last urban stronghold of the Western-backed rebels, marking a major victory for Syrian president Bashar Assad. A convoy of ambulances followed by a long line of green buses drove out of the devastated rebel-held area of Aleppo, which was besieged and bombarded for months by Syrian government forces. Meanwhile, The UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said that about 50,000 people remain in east Aleppo, with some 40,000 of them likely to be transferred to government-held West Aleppo, while the militants and their families will be evacuated to the rebel-stronghold of Idlib, which De Mistura predicted will become “the next Aleppo” if no political solution can be found to the civil war.
“There’s a total of 50,000 people. Out of those 50,000 we think that a large part of them, maybe 40,000, will leave for Aleppo west, not Idlib.” / “You also have the fighters. We calculate that there are between 1,500 up to 5,000, we don’t know yet, we’ll see the figures, they were hidden in the houses. And with their families we calculate that all together they represent 10,000 people. Their families will leave with them, they want to leave with them, and where will they go? They will go to Idlib.” / “What will happen in Idlib? Well I’m sorry to say that we don’t know but seeing what happened in Aleppo, and if there isn’t any agreement on a ceasefire and if there is no political discussion, then Idlib is the next Aleppo,” said de Mistura.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is on an official visit to Japan, said that the next stage for Syria is to reach an agreement on a full ceasefire for the entire country. “I really hope that the Syrian army after its successful military operation in Aleppo can stay there and peaceful civilians could return to normal life, several thousands have already returned to their half-destroyed houses.” / “The next stage is reaching an agreement on full ceasefire on entire Syria’s territory. We are in a very active talks with representatives of the armed opposition, also with Turkey’s mediation,” said Putin. Since the beginning of the war in Syria, some half a million people have been killed and more than 11 million displaced, in the severest refugee crisis the world has seen since world war two.