Rebels Promise to Make a 'New Stand,' But Collapse Appears Imminent
Following reports late last week that the Syrian military controlled a whopping 92% of Aleppo, the losses among the rebel coalition in the city continued to mount rapidly, with the government now saying it controls fully 98% of the city, and every single district east of the Aleppo River.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights declared the fighting all but over, saying the rebels had effectively lost and it was only a matter of time until they collapse outright. Syrian Lt. Gen. Zaid al-Saleh insisted the battle would end quickly, and the rebels had only the choice of surrendering or dying.
Negotiations are still ongoing on a deal to evacuate what’s left of the rebels, which includes a number of al-Qaeda fighters and their allies. The talks are proceeding a lot more slowly than the battle, however, meaning that the rebels might be defeated outright before any deal convincing them to leave.
Indeed, the rebels still aren’t talking pullout themselves, with one of the rebel officials in Turkey issuing a statement predicting that the river would represent “a new front line” and that the rebels would continue to fight. While the logistics of getting into the last rebel stronghold aren’t totally clear at this point, with so much of the city damaged and barricaded, since the rebels lost effectively half of their territory in just a few hours, it seems unrealistic for their Turkey-based spokesmen to hope for a major turnaround.
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