December 1, 2016
All the armed Syrian opposition factions in the besieged districts of opposition-held eastern Aleppo have decided to dissolve their individual organisations, and will now instead reform as a newly created “Army of Aleppo”, opposition forces have declared.
The announcement means that there no longer exists a multitude of different factions in Aleppo who opposed the continued rule of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and their unification comes following gains the Assad regime have made over the past week.
The creation of the Army of Aleppo comes after the first major territorial upset suffered by the Syrian opposition in the divided northern city since 2012. Using barrel bombs laced with chemical agents, the Assad regime has advanced into a number of neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo, previously inaccessible to them.
Although the opposition has previously united their command structures, notably leading to a brief breaking of the regime’s siege on eastern Aleppo, this is the first time that they have completely unified as a single entity.
The unification comes at the request of the people of Aleppo who live under opposition control but fear what may happen to them by a vengeful Assad regime should eastern districts fall.
The collapse of the opposition frontline in Aleppo has led to concerns that regime forces and allied Shia militias from Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan may commit a sectarian massacre on an unprecedented scale.
It remains to be seen whether now unofficial divisions between the previously disparate groups will resurface, though it seems unlikely that will happen in the short-term considering the very real danger the Assad regime poses to neighborhoods under opposition control.
Calls to established a safe corridor for civilians
Meanwhile, the president of the Aleppo local council issued calls pleading for the Syrian regime assault to pause and for a corridor to be created to allow civilians wishing to flee the violence in Syria’s largest city safe passage.
“The civilians are calling for the world to help. In the name of humanity, let the civilians leave the city. Help the civilians! Protect the civilians!” said Brita Hagi Hasan at a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based war monitor, accused the Assad regime of detaining hundreds of civilians who were forced to flee their homes and neighborhoods as a result of the offensive.
Hasan said that the regime and allied Iran-backed militias were committing reprisals against civilians. “We have documented evidence, proof of executions and reprisals,” he said, adding that men under the age of 40 were being especially targeted by the regime.
Commenting on the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo, Ayrault said: “We shall see what members of the Security Council can do to save lives. Everyone is against the wall, but we can’t look the other way.”
Source: Middle East Monitor.