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Operation in Aleppo is over, conditions created for talks on ceasefire in Syria — minister

December 23, 2016, 12:10 UTC+3
"The operation was conducted on your instructions in tight cooperation with Turkish and Iranian counterparts", Russia's defense minister said at a meeting with president Putin
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© Timur Abdullayev/News Team/TASS

MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/. The operation to remove militants from Aleppo has been completed and conditions created for the beginning of talks on the full ceasefire in Syria, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The operation was conducted on your instructions in tight cooperation with Turkish and Iranian counterparts. Now the next stage is due to follow. To my mind, we have come close to achieving an agreement on the full ceasefire in Syria," Shoigu said.

"I want to report on the implementation of your orders under the agreements with the Turkish and Iranian leaders. You ordered to unblock four more populated localities," the minister said.

He noted that the issue at hand was two Shiite settlements near Idlib and two populated localities near Damascus.

Iran and Turkey have helped in making conditions for the evacuation from Aleppo of almost 34,000 people, including about 8,500 children, during the second stage of recapturing that city, he went on.

"From December 15, military action was stopped to allow the biggest humanitarian operation, to evacuate radical elements and their families," he said. "On that stage, we managed to make jointly with the Turkish and Iranian counterparts, and, of course, with the Syrian authorities, conditions for the evacuation on those days of almost 34,000 people - almost 14,000 of them are men and about 8,500 children, and about the same number - women," the defense minister said.

"Seven humanitarian corridors were set up, with nearly 110,000 people leaving the city via them, while 9,000 militants laid down arms. Some of them, the bulk, have been granted amnesty in accordance with a decision by President (Bashar) al-Assad," the minister said.

"Civilians are coming back (to the city) very actively. Our specialists alongside Syrians are restoring power and water supplies," Shoigu said.

As of Friday, "all the opportunities are in place" to allow humanitarian aid convoys into Aleppo that "we have been discussing so much."

"More to the point, we can see the opportunity but cannot see any willingness," the minister added.

Military police battalion to maintain order in Aleppo

The minister went on to say that a military police battalion has been deployed to the liberated quarters of Syria’s Aleppo to maintain order.

"In order to maintain order in the liberated territories (in Aleppo) a battalion of military police was sent here from Thursday’s evening," Shoigu said.

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