BREAKING NEWS: Aleppo battle ends as Syria rebel deal reached

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Military action has ended in eastern Aleppo, Russia’s ambassador to the UN has said.

Vitaly Churkin said the government had re- established control over the last areas of the city held by rebels.

The announcement, if confirmed, brings to an end more than four years of vicious fighting.

Earlier Mr Churkin said an arrangement had been made for rebel fighters to leave the city. Rebels have confirmed the deal.

Reporters on the ground said there had been no bombardments or fighting in recent hours.

The rebels had been squeezed into ever smaller areas of the city in recent months in a major government offensive backed by Russian air power.

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Word of the deal came as the UN reported summary killings by pro-government forces.

The UN’s human rights office said it had reliable evidence that in four areas 82 civilians were killed, adding that many more may have died.

“According to the latest information that we received in the last hour, military actions in eastern Aleppo are over,” Mr Churkin told an emergency session of the UN Security Council.

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Earlier he had spoken of the deal allowing the rebels to leave, saying it would take place within hours.

“The agreement is for the fighters to leave,” he said.

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“The civilians, they can stay, they can go to safe places, they can take advantage of the humanitarian arrangements that are on the ground. Nobody is going to harm the civilians.”

Rebel groups, when confirming the deal, suggested that civilians would be included in the exodus.

Last messages from Aleppo

Activist Lina Shamy: “Humans all over the world, don’t sleep! You can do something, protest now! Stop the genocide”.

Bana Alabed, aged 7: “I am talking to the world now live from East #Aleppo. This is my last moment to either live or die.”

White Helmets tweet: “All streets & destroyed buildings are full with dead bodies. It’s hell.”

Abdul Kafi Alhamado, teacher: “Some people are under the rubble, no-one can help them. They just leave them under the rubble until they die – these houses as their graves.”

* What has happened in districts seized by the government?

UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said that 82 civilians had reportedly been killed by pro-government forces, of whom 11 were women and 13 children, adding that the death toll could be much higher.

Mr Colville added that there were reports of numerous bodies in the streets, with residents unable to retrieve them for fear of being shot on sight.

The UN’s humanitarian adviser on Syria, Jan Egeland, earlier spoke of “massacres of unarmed civilians, of young men, of women, children, health workers”, saying a pro-government Iraqi Shia militia was responsible for the killings.

* What does this mean for the civil war?

There is no question that this is a major blow to the armed opposition, It is a major victory for the Russians, the Iranians, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and some Iraqi Shia militias.

But the rebels still control quite large areas, as do the jihadists of so-called Islamic State.

So in terms of Syria itself the war continues.

The BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says it will be a different type of war – less rebels trying to hold territory and create their own entity, more hit-and-run and insurgency.

* What is the international community saying?

The UN Security Council has been holding an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in Aleppo.

US ambassador Samantha Power told the meeting that the Syrian government and its allies Russia and Iran bore responsibility for killings of civilians.

For the UK, Matthew Rycroft said the UN had failed in its mission to resolve the crisis, and the reports of atrocities “evoked the darkest days of the history of the United Nations”.

Russian ambassador Churkin denied humanitarian abuses were taking place.

Earlier Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said atrocities were being carried out by “terrorist groups”, referring to rebels.

* How did Aleppo reach this point?

For much of the past four years, Aleppo has been divided roughly in two, with the government controlling the western half and rebels the east.

Syrian troops finally broke the deadlock with the help of Iranian-backed militias and Russian air strikes, reinstating a siege on the east in early September and launching an all-out assault weeks later.

Source: BBC

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