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Is Assad Poised to Reclaim East Aleppo?

Some 20,000 Syrians have fled rebel-held areas in the past two days, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross

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Story Transcript

JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: The Syrian army and its allies have announced the capture of a large swathe of eastern Aleppo from rebels in an accelerating attack that threatens to crush the opposition in its most important urban stronghold.

Videos uploaded to social media websites purport to show residents fleeing eastern Aleppo.

Some 20,000 people have fled intensified attacks on rebel-held eastern Aleppo in Syria in the past 48 hours, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday.

Capturing eastern Aleppo would be the biggest victory for President Bashar al-Assad since the start of the uprising against him in 2011, restoring his control over the whole city apart from a Kurdish-held area that has not fought against him. Retaking Aleppo would shore up Assad’s grip over the main population centers of western Syria where he and his allies have focused their firepower, while much of the rest of the country remains outside his control.

The advance has stirred concern in the West about the fate of Aleppo’s entrapped civilian population.

In a statement, the aid agency said that civilians must be allowed “safe passage” out of the eastern sector and that it stood ready to organize medical evacuations of sick and wounded.

A video uploaded at the social media website, Central Syrian Military Media, purports to show residents of eastern Aleppo being received by government forces and then seen leaving the city on buses.

Another video purports to show Syrian forces driving tanks through an eastern Aleppo neighborhood recently seized from rebel control, soldiers can be seen patrolling the streets.

On Tuesday France called for an immediate United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the situation in Aleppo and said it would press for a U.N. resolution to punish the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Officials in Britain, Germany and the United States have all spoken of their worry that civilians are being killed.

We recently spoke to Col. Larry Wilkerson retired United States army soldier and former chief of staff to the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell about the steps for a just solution to the conflict in Syria and what role the US can play in that.

LARRY WILKERSON: This is going to sound like the impossible but there are two steps that need to be taken right away, immediately. The first is a high level policy step which says president Obama and his council of elders, his national security council, whatever, should decide that Barshar al Assad does not have to go. I think from what we have seen, the United States continuing to insist that Barshar Assad being un tenable, that is unacceptable as President Obama said it earlier is simply a position that now is part and partial to all this blood and carnage and treasure and lives and diaspora being caused. If you can’t back up from a strategic error like this and count your loses and say okay I made a mistake. You don’t have to publicly say that but you have to say that in the councils of government and you have to be able to say I’m going to rectify that mistake. I miscalculated.

Bashar al Assad has enormous support. He has support not just outside Syria from Iran and Russia and elsewhere. He has support from inside Syria. Significant support. Then you have to face the reality too that on the other side you are largely supporting your own enemy, Al Qaeda. No matter what you say about the CIA’s ability to differential between so called moderate rebels and those of the Al Nusra Front and those of Al Qaeda affiliates, that is pure nonsense. The CIA does not have that kind of capability. It does not have that kind of discrimination. So, most of the people we are now arming and supporting to fight Assad look a lot like Al Qaeda to me. So you’ve got to admit you’ve made two huge errors and you’ve got to rectify those errors. Those are the steps you need to make immediately.

NOOR: Between July and mid-November, more than 40,000 people fled areas of fighting in and near the government-controlled western part of Aleppo, ICRC said, bringing the total who have left Syria’s biggest pre-war city to 60,000 in the last five months.

Reporting for the Real News, this is Jaisal Noor.

End

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