Aleppo Evacuation Suspended; Putin Calls for New Round of Talks
The evacuation of people from Aleppo has been suspended, leaving thousands of people trapped. Blasts were heard Friday near the convoys moving people out of the city.
State media report rebels have violated the cease-fire agreement with the government. It is not clear when the evacuations will resume.
Earlier, Russia’s president says his country is working with Turkey to start a new round of peace talks on Syria with a goal of a nationwide cease-fire.
Speaking Friday during a visit to Japan, Vladimir Putin said he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan propose holding negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition, possibly to take place in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.
His comments came as more civilians are preparing to leave the destroyed city of Aleppo after thousands of people fled Thursday under a cease-fire brokered by Russian and Turkey that essentially ceded what has been a divided city to Syrian government control.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday at a rally in Pennsylvania the U.S. would create “safe zones” in Syria. “We’ll build and help build safe zones in Syria, so people will have a chance.” Trump said “When I look at what’s going on in Syria, it’s so sad.”
The president-elect, in his first comments on the U.S. role in Syria since winning the election, said he would ask Persian Gulf nations to contribute to the financing of the zones.
The U.N. Security Council is expected to meet in an emergency session Friday to discuss Aleppo. France, which called for the meeting, wants international observers on hand to monitor the evacuation of civilians, which is taking place after years of fighting in the city. Previous cease-fires collapsed almost immediately, putting a halt to evacuation efforts.
Convoys of ambulances and green buses pulled away from the devastated city, which was a crown jewel of Muslim and Arab history and culture before the Syrian civil war turned it into a ruin.
The buses left eastern Aleppo and went into government-held territory before eventually making it to another rebel-held part of the province.
Some of the evacuated civilians praised Allah for saving them even as they left behind the bodies of friends and relatives under slabs of concrete that used to be schools, homes, and stores.
Scores of wounded civilians arrived in Turkey Friday for treatment.
Syrian rebels and government forces agreed to a three-day cease-fire to let civilians leave. Previous cease-fires collapsed almost immediately, putting a halt to evacuation efforts.
Syrian rebels hold on to only a sliver of eastern Aleppo after Syrian forces, with Russian military support, began their push to retake the city. President Bashar al-Assad said Thursday that history would be made with what he referred to as the liberation of Aleppo.
“What is happening today is the writing of a history written by every Syrian citizen. The writing did not start today. It started six years ago when the crisis and war started against Syria,” Assad said in a video posted to his official Twitter account.
Assad likened his government’s recapture of Aleppo to other historical events, including the birth of Jesus Christ and the fall of the Soviet Union, and said history would be permanently altered.
In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry was not talking about history Thursday but of what he calls a massacre by the Assad regime.
“We have witnessed indiscriminate slaughter, not accidents of war, not collateral damage, but frankly purposeful, cynical policy of terrorizing civilians.”
Kerry said the United States is going to work to save lives and continue pushing all parties in Syria toward a resolution and allow full access by humanitarian groups throughout all of Syria.
“We believe this is a moment where the Syrian regime and the Russian military have an opportunity to make the decision to, a strategic decision I might add, for peace.”
With tens of thousands of lives still concentrated in a small part of Aleppo, Kerry said the last thing anybody wants to see is another Srebrenica — the Bosnian town where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred in 1995 during the war in the Balkans.
“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, indeed over the past five years,” Kerry said.
More violence was reported early Thursday, with activists and local medical officials saying pro-government forces fired on an ambulance that tried to leave rebel-held territory, wounding at least three people.
France called for another emergency session of the United Nations Security Council Thursday to discuss the situation in Aleppo.
French diplomats say the meeting should address “the imperative need to ensure full, immediate, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access and guarantee the evacuation of all civilians in proper conditions.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter criticized the Russians Thursday for failing to carry out their stated reasons for getting involved in Syria, which was to help in the political transition.
The Russians came in � I’ll remind you � to Syria saying that they were there to promote precisely that political transition. And they haven’t done that. And they also said they were coming in to fight ISIL [Islamic State] and they haven’t done that either, Carter said.
Source: Voice of America.https://syrianewsgazette.com/aleppo-evacuation-suspended-putin-calls-for-new-round-of-talks/National news