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Russian General Staff says Aleppo liberation operation is over

The retaking of Aleppo from terrorists has created all conditions for a peace settlement of the Syrian conflict, according to the Russian General Staff

MOSCOW, December 16. /TASS/. The Syrian army has completed the operation to regain the city of Aleppo from terrorists, the chief of the Russian General Staff’s main operations directorate, Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoi, told the media on Friday.

"The operation to clear Aleppo of terrorists is over. Government troops are wiping out scattered groups of radicals who have refused to leave the city," he said.

He recalled that for a whole year Russia had been trying to persuade the United States at a number of working meetings and talks to separate the ‘moderate opposition’ from terrorists, "but the US invariably refused to do that on various excuses."

"Russia then proposed joint measures for removing Jabhat al-Nusra from eastern Aleppo. The US refused to support that idea, either. Now we’ve done that on our own," Rudskoi said.

Moderate opposition lays down arms

More than 3,400 gunmen of Syria’s moderate opposition have voluntarily laid down arms in the course of the operation to liberate Aleppo’s eastern quarter, chief of the main operations directorate of the Russian General Staff Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoi said on Friday.

"During liberation of Aleppo’s eastern quarters, as many as 3,406 gunmen of the moderate opposition stopped resistance and laid down arms. As many as 3,056 of them have been anmested, the rest are being checked," he said.

According to Rudskoi, the overall strength of radical groups in the city exceeded 4,500 men. "Most of them were evacuated from the city throughout the previous day. This way the moderate opposition was separated from terrorists," he noted.

The operation to evacuate militants and their families from Aleppo’s eastern quarters began on Thursday. On Friday, the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria said the operation is over. According to the center, as many as 9,500 people, including more than 4,500 militants and 337 wounded people, were evacuated from Eastern Aleppo.

7,000 civilians return to their homes

More than 108,000 civilians left Aleppo during the operation to free the city, Rudskoi said.

"During the operation to free eastern Aleppo, more than 108,000 civilians were evacuated from the city," he said.

According to him, the civilians have been accommodated at the temporary reception centers and provided with all the essentials. "Only Russia and the Syrian government have been providing humanitarian aid to these people," Rudskoi stressed.

More than 7,000 civilians have returned to their homes in Eastern Aleppo, according to Rudskoi.

"Now that Eastern Aleppo has been liberated, more than 7,000 civilians have already returned to their homes. The process of returning is complicated by the fact that while leaving the city terrorists destroyed infrastructure facilities and planted a great number of mines, including at social facilities," he said.

The retaking of Aleppo from terrorists has created all conditions for a peace settlement of the conflict in Syria, according to Rudskoi.

"We believe that with the pullout of armed groups from Aleppo and the completion of the operation to retake the city all conditions have been created for a peace settlement in Syria," he said

The pasts few months have shown that the Syrian government is prepared to do a great deal to restore peace to Syria.

"This is most well-seen in the amnesty granted to thousands of people across the country and the consent of opposition groups to leave a number of communities sealed off by government troops. This has helped avoid unnecessary violence and save many lives. Apart from eastern Aleppo the Khan al-Shih and al-Tall towns in Damascus province are recent examples of this," he said.

Syrian government troops and paramilitary militias mounted an offensive in the east of Aleppo in November.

Restoration of residential quarters

The administration of war-torn Aleppo is already conducting restoration work in the city’s residential quarters liberated from militants, Rudskoi said.

"At present, Russian combat engineers are conducting mine-clearance work on the territory liberated from militants. The city’s administration is carrying out restoration works. Electricity and water supplies have already been resumed in some districts," the Russian general said.

As the Russian General Staff reported on Thursday, a total of 105 residential quarters on an area of 78.5 square kilometers were fully liberated from terrorists. A total of over 900 terrorists have been eliminated and dozens of pieces of heavy armament and military hardware have been destroyed.

Warehouses with foreign-supplied foodstuffs

Several warehouses with foreign-supplied foodstuffs and essential necessities for militants were discovered by Syrian troops in the recently liberated sections of Eastern Aleppo, Rudskoi said.

"Syrian troops discovered several warehouses in the liberated sections of Aleppo and they contained food supplied from abroad," Rudskoi said. "The products were intended for terrorists and members of their families, while the rest of Aleppo residents suffered from malnourishment."

"It seems that the Western countries and international humanitarian organizations are not in a hurry to start delivering aid to Aleppo since there are no more of their prime recipients, namely militants, and the peaceful citizens are not of interest for them," Rudskoi added.

"We have repeatedly heard pledges from the West and various international organizations to immediately organize the deliveries of food and essential items to residents of Aleppo," Rudskoi said. "However, none of the countries and international organizations are providing such assistance to them."

"They can express their concerns over the fates of Aleppo residents as much as possible either from Geneva or New York, but at the same time they can be doing nothing to help them," he added.