Rebels shell Aleppo as Assad urges peace
Russian defense minister informed President Vladimir Putin that a full Syrian ceasefire is approaching
Syrian rebels shelled Aleppo on Friday killing at least three people, media reported, as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies said the insurgents' withdrawal from the city could pave the way towards a political solution for the country.
A day after the last rebels left their remaining pocket of territory in the city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights - a Britain-based war monitor - said about 10 shells fell in its southwestern al-Hamdaniya district.
The Observatory said six people, including two children, were killed, while state television said at least three people died.
In the capital Damascus, authorities said on Friday rebels had polluted the water with diesel, forcing it to cut the supply for a few days. Reserves would be used until the problem was resolved.
Insurgents seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have frequently shelled the areas of Aleppo that have been under government control throughout the conflict, which began in 2011.
The destruction in those parts of the city has been far less than in the eastern districts that rebels held until this month.
The last of them left the city late on Thursday for countryside immediately to the west, under a ceasefire deal in which the International Committee of the Red Cross said about 35,000 people, mostly civilians, had departed.
Many of those who left the city are living as refugees in the areas to the west and south of Aleppo, including in Idlib province where bulldozers were used to clear heavy snowfall on Friday morning, the opposition Orient television showed.
On Friday morning the army and its allies, including the Lebanese group Hezbollah, searched districts abandoned by the rebels to clear them of mines and other dangers, the Observatory reported.
State television showed footage of the al-Ansari district, including empty streets lined with apartment blocks smashed by air strikes.
Russia considers total ceasefire in Syria
The Russian defense minister, Sergey Shoygu, informed President Vladimir Putin that a comprehensive ceasefire in Syria is approaching.
The Russian Foreign Minister asserted that the ceasefire on the level of Syria would be discussed in the Astana talks in January.
Russian President Vladimir Putin maintained on Friday that Russia, Iran, Turkey and Bashar al-Assad, have agreed to attend peace talks in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, in an effort to resolve the conflict in Syria.
Putin boosted that the evacuation of Aleppo wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Russia, Iran and Turkey, or what he called “the good intentions of Bashar al Assad.”
He declared that the next step in Syria should be a ceasefire at the country level.
The Russian president also disclosed that reclaiming Aleppo is important for Syria. The Russian Defense reported that operation Aleppo was at behest of Putin and with the help of the Turks and the Iranians.
He added that Syrian regime’s army repossessing the entire city of Aleppo is a “very important step” toward resolving the conflict in Syria.
Putin expressed as quoted by Russian news agencies at a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu that “the recovery of Aleppo is a very important step towards the restoration of the situation to normal in Syria, and I hope in the entire region as well.”
Putin also stated that “this operation is over. It is in the final phase with the participation and the direct impact, not to say crucial, of our soldiers.”
The Russian president resumed, “we must do everything in our power to stop the fighting in all the Syrian territory. In any case, this is what we are trying to get done.”
On the other hand, the Russian Foreign Ministry, announced that if the president-elect Donald Trump would try to improve the relations with the Syrian regime, the government of Moscow, will not consider the United States as an adversary in Syria.