Aleppo the Liberation ‘Our camera team works on the front lines in the northern capital of the country. Under the cover of heavy armor we are advancing towards the forward positions. The battle rages for every building.’ Aleppo. The largest Syrian city. A middle-eastern megapolis on the border with Turkey and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. As a result of the conflict, more than half of the population of the city found themselves in territory controlled by radical groups and the longer these groups controlled the eastern part of the city, the quicker it slipped into the Dark Ages. The rebel groups that came to Syria to fight quickly radicalized and became hard-line religious fundamentalists. Secular ideals were replaced with religious demands. Part of the northern territory of Syria quickly became a terrorist haven where schools were closed down, Sharia law was implemented and the local population (except for the fighters themselves and their families) was held hostage. The operation to liberate Aleppo started in the summer of 2016. The Syrian army managed to keep control of the Western part of the city throughout the war. The soldiers stationed there were regulars and recruits from various militia groups and allies loyal to Damascus. The plan was to surround the eastern blocks of the city to cut off key supplies of weapons, food and the flow of jihadi reinforcements to the terrorists. The rebels are now using the heights to shoot anti-aircraft missiles at positions held by the Syrian army and positions held by the Al-Quds brigade in the refugee camp of Handarad. They are taking shots at the mosque to make it difficult for anybody to traverse the street to the other section of the city. The Syrian army began to make successful strides towards this goal when they retook the northern blocks of the city and surrounded the rebels in the East. Parts of the Castello highway came under Syrian army control for the first time since the war started and became the “northern gate” to the city of Aleppo. It seemed that total victory would follow soon after. But was too good to be true. The Eastern part of the city held special strategic significance for the rebels. During the time that the rebels controlled the eastern part of the city, it had become a key economic and military hub. Close proximity to Turkey provided a steady stream of fresh Islamist fighters who fought throughout the province. The rebel counter-attack came fast. After they reformed into one coalition, the rebels had a single command center and a constant re-supply of ammunition. In the beginning of August, the rebels began to attack the southern part of the city. With the support of jet-propelled heavy artillery, tanks and modern weapons systems such as the American TOW anti-tank missile system, the radicals were able to seize the Ramus region and the Ministry of Defense of Syria including the three schools- logistics, artillery, air force school. The rebels committed significant resources to this attack and to defend their gains. They opened a Southern corridor into Aleppo and began to supply the rebels in the eastern part of the city, despite constant artillery bombardment by the Syrian Army. The fight for the Military schools in the Ramus region began. The Syrian Army sustained heavy losses, and the rebels suffered heavier losses still. But the radicals did not spare any effort because they knew control of this key sector would determine the battle for Aleppo. The Al-Quds brigade (gunfire) are supporting the Syrian Army’s assault troops. The Syrian Army was able to eventually take back the military academies. The rebels could not withstand the pounding. The Syrian Army assault units began their attack on the Ramus sector in Aleppo to regain control of the southern gate. They took back the highway, and the rebels found themselves surrounded again. The people are behind Bashar! Here is the southern entrance to the largest city in Syria- Aleppo. The road was blocked for almost a month by radical rebel groups. But now it is possible to enter Aleppo from the north by the Castello highway and the south through the Ramus region. The radicals in Eastern Aleppo found themselves completely cut off. And the worse the military situation they found themselves in, the more vigorously the Western media began to go to work for the rebels. What is happening in Aleppo is a massive crime against humanity. To be honest, I haven’t seen anyone dancing in the streets. As if on cue, they started accusing Russia and Syria of war crimes such as the killing of civilians, and indiscriminate use of artillery and aircraft. Social media was used to spread emotionally manipulative messages without any real proof. Fabricated material was spread by activists in these radical groups. Fake eyewitness accounts on Twitter, Facebook, were written in perfect english and spread. Many of these accounts curiously had round the clock access to internet connection, something even the relatively wealthier and better off inhabitants of Western Aleppo did not have. And many of these stories were instantly snatched up and spread by major Western media agencies without any fact-checking of any kind, without telling viewers the sources were not trustworthy – too put it mildly. Aleppo is now a synonym for hell. This is the most tragic day for the inhabitants of Aleppo in 5 years. Nothing short of a massacre. Unbelievable brutality. Barbaric attack. Indiscriminate slaughter. The Western media began to rely on the participants in the war, – radical islamists as unbiased independent observers, which clearly violated all journalistic standards. Specialists who made the scripted and contrived videos showing Syrian government war crimes did a sloppy job, as if they didn’t expect anyone to check the facts. Some examples: August 27. A photograph that seems to show the aftermath of a shelling in Neirob. The same girl is getting saved by different rescuers in different photos. And this came a month later. The “White Helmets” are seen here saving the same girl. The girl is named Aya from Homs. The BBC casually places her in Aleppo and casts her as the victim of Russian bombing. This would be enough to raise questions of fraud, but the group of doctors around her also raises questions. They seem to be in no hurry to bandage the wound on her head. Strange behavior for doctors. Or the girl from Egypt. In Port Said, 5 people were arrested who had filmed a child touched up with fake blood with a stuffed animal toy on the background of ruins. The police discovered that the group was going to publish the photos as proof of Assad’s supposed war crimes in Aleppo. These are only the most striking and obvious cases of media manipulation. At this point the Western media started to actively use the organization known as the “White Helmets.” This organization supposedly rescued people caught in battle zones. It turns out the White Helmets are actively funded by Soros money and their founder was a former British officer named James Le Mesurier. After being put in the reserves, he worked with private security firms. It is hard to believe that he ISN’T in some way connected to American special forces. American private military contractors do not work without coordination with the CIA. The White Helmets were a key player in the informational war. They accounted for about half the material put up on the internet of rescue organizations helping victims of the Syrian army or Russian airstrikes. But even here, the fabrications were not done professionally. In one case, a wounded civilian ends up being in fact a rebel in the FSA. In another, the White Helmets take part in an execution. Sometimes the White Helmets look like rebels themselves. Civilian activists with guns. Another interesting detail, after the Eastern part of the city was retaken, none of the locals saw any White Helmets at work. And of course, we have to mention the supposed hospital that was destroyed by Russian airstrikes. The locals in Aleppo already treat the incident as a joke. With a tinge of black humor, they remark that everyone was unaware that there were so many hospitals in Aleppo. Almost every couple of days, the western media would mention Russian airstrikes on hospitals. From Euronews from Oct. 2 2016. Massive rocket attack on Suhuyu hospital in the eastern part of the city. The building has been destroyed along with the medical equipment. But here are some satellite images of the hospital. From the 24th of September. The building is not damaged. From the 22nd of October. The building is still intact. And to be completely clear, this is a medical facility in the center of Aleppo, not far from the main symbol of the city, the old citadel. The terrorists controlled it for several years. Here is what terrorists from the Al-Nusra Front stored in the hospital. Behind me are boxes of ?????, they use it as an explosive. And here we have a bag with magazine pouches for Kalashnikov ammo. There is enough to outfit an entire battalion here. The first floor of each building in the complex has been fortified with powerful high-caliber machine-gun nests decorated with the symbology of the radicals. Here is an automobile that was delivered from the United Kingdom. The territory of the medical complex was turned into a military base. In the cellars were the barracks, on the roof were sniper positions. This is the first floor of a hospital in eastern Syria. Clearly, no patients were treated here for awhile. The medical equipment was removed. Fighters from the Al-Nusra group set up their headquarters here. This place was a military command post, a Sharia court, and an ammunition supply depot. It even had its own prison. Here is the first solitary cell. There isn’t a lot of room. There is a pillow, a blanket, and a Koran. And here are legal documents from the Sharia court. Here you can see how they prosecuted a man for criticizing the Syrian rebels on state TV. There are papers regarding domestic murder cases everywhere, even reconciliation statements. Here family members officially forgave the killers of one of their family. Judging by the documents we found here, this group of radicals gave themselves the right to commit any crime in the name of building their pseudo-islamic state. This is an ID of a member of the Sharia police. Immediate compliance without the right to ask any questions is demanded. The holder of this ID has the right to arrest just about anyone without any real reason. Both schools and hospitals were used for military purposes. But the West did not seem to care then, and don’t seem to care now. They also ignored all of Russia’s humanitarian initiatives. While the government offensive in Aleppo was ongoing, a branch of the reconciliation center was operating, working to reconcile the warring sides. Russian soldiers were doing their utmost to prevent the fierce fighting in the city. They suggested that the militants leave the eastern part of Aleppo with their weapons and go to the Idlib province. They even provided a security guarantee. Russian officers then organized a humanitarian corridor so that civilians could be evacuated from the war zone. But it quickly became clear that the radicals were not interested in minimizing civilian casualties. Moreover, they used the inhabitants of the eastern part of Aleppo as pawns, more than 200 thousand civilians became human shields for the militants. While we were walking on the road we were shot at by mortars and snipers. By 6am, there were massive crowds in the streets, and the rebels started shooting at them. I saw how they killed a pregnant woman with a child. It was a very bloody morning. The approaches to the humanitarian corridor were mined. Anyone trying to escape the eastern sector of the city was shot at. Others were simply intimidated. People from Islamist controlled neighborhoods told us about what happened to them. These clips need no further commentary. A meeting point for civilians on neutral territory. People are coming now along the fence in complete darkness. They are coming here. Here, there are Syrian Army soldiers. If they are civilians, they will be evacuated. As a result, the first evacuations of families from East Aleppo resembled scenes from some terrifying war thriller. Employees of the Russian humanitarian mission, officers of the reconciliation effort, and the Syrian Army all working together started evacuating civilians under cover of darkness. These scenes give an idea of what people had to go through to escape from the terrorists. With nursing babies, crawling along the bridge, only 50 meters from armed militants, if they had been noticed by the Islamists, these civilians would have been shot. Now the task is to gather the entire group together here quickly and get out of the zone being monitored by the rebels. They are about 50 meters away from us. Finding themselves in a safe place, the civilians began to describe what is really going on in the east of Aleppo. The evidence suggests that the Western media is completely divorced from reality. When we learned that 9 humanitarian corridors were opened, we all got ready to go, some in cars, some on foot. But the terrorists opened fire on us. They fired the most especially in the area of Salahadin and Fardos. They killed many people and then decided to punish entire neighborhoods. In Fardos, they don’t give out any bread. They only feed the fighters. Meanwhile, Western humanitarian organizations continue to demand the right to enter rebel controlled territory. In actual fact, they were trying to save the terrorists from crushing defeat. Food that was distributed in the eastern sectors of the city never reached the civilians. It stayed in the warehouses controlled by rebel groups. And at the same time, fierce fighting for the south, south-west, and west of Aleppo continued. The rebels, with Western media propaganda support rallied for one last breakout attempt. They used a cease-fire to move heavy armor and artillery into Aleppo from the neighboring Idlib province. They attacked the military academies in order to break through the encirclement of the eastern neighborhoods. It was a bold and skillful attack. It was the first time that they massed so many artillery rockets in Aleppo. There are no soldiers in this area, only schools. The rebels decided to attack this spot right when classes were going on. Innocent children were killed. All they wanted to do was study. If the fighters were to break the military’s hold on the academy, it is possible that they could not only save the units blockaded in eastern Aleppo, but could take control of the whole city. The fighters were stopped. Artillery hit their supply lines, and the army was successful in repeling attacks of the front units. The Islamists suffered heavy casualties and basically, lost their ability to attack. This demoralized the radicals caught in the blockade. They intensified their attacks on residential neighborhoods. They hit schools and streets which were full of civilians. Children were killed on a daily basis. ‘These children are wounded by shells. They are frightened and don’t know what is happening. Some are in such shock that they cannot remember their own names.’ ‘Please call Mama, please call Mama” ‘Everything is OK, I’m here with you, I’m here…’ The terrorists used artillery, mortars, even home-made cannon, which are sometimes more terrifying than any other weapons The intensity of shelling of civilian targets intensified. The radicals even used chemical weapons, party to spread panic among the government fighters, but also to be able to accuse Assad’s government of using chemical weapons. ‘A rocket landed near us fired from the area controlled by the ISIS terrorists. I thought it was a regular bomb. I went to clear it away, and a liquid leaked out of it. I cleaned it up and threw it in the garbage in the street. A couple minutes later I got dizzy and nauseous.’ The terrorist groups have used chemical weapons in Aleppo several times. The first time was in 2013, near the village of Khan al Assol. Our correspondent Anastasia Popova carried out an investigation at the time, and concluded that the terrorists had used poisons which killed 25 civilians. ‘I wrote a letter – we are sick of the bombs, sick of the destruction and the blood and the dying – and they answered our peaceful appeal with more bombs – ‘ And here, in the 10-70 neighborhood in South-west Aleppo, in the Afrino region, Russian sappers managed to extract an unexploded bomb loaded with mustard gas. ‘We opened the bomb, and removed from it a substance – preliminary testing indicated that the substance was mustard gas. Mustard gas causes lesions on the skin. Evidence was collected in accordance with best international practice. Russian experts handed the evidence over to officials in Damascus. Proof that the terrorists had been using poisonous substances was sent to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), but global human rights organizations again chose to ignore the evidence. After the supply lines of the fighters in East Aleppo were cut off, they lost the ability to defend themselves, and most importantly, to prevent civilians from fleeing, – 10s of 1000s of people fled to areas controlled by Syrian government forces. Tired, miserable, and exhausted by the terror, they received for the first time proper medical care, and warm food. Deprived of their human shield, the terrorists began to retreat without a fight, giving back neighborhood after neighborhood. Fighters remained only in the South-eastern part of this city, the largest in Syria. Military pressure from the Syrian army and ongoing negotiations, which were initiated by the Russian center for reconciliation, achieved the impossible – about 10,000 fighters, together with their families, decided to leave without a fight and move to Idlib province. The war in the city was over. The daily deaths were no more. Here is what Putin said about the end of the battle for Allepo: This is a huge … I want to repeat this for emphasis so that everyone understands this… the most massive humanitarian mission of modern times… For the first time in many years people went into the streets of Aleppo without the fear of being killed by an act of terror, or mortar fire. But even after the victory the situation remains terrifying. Neighborhoods controlled by the terrorists were discovered to contain mass graves, torture chambers, and chemical weapons depots. Whole neighborhoods had been mined. Morning of December 23, 2016, about 60 civilian corpses were discovered in a school in the Sukkari neighborhood. Before leaving East Aleppo, rebel fighters killed people, sometimes beheading them, others were shot in the back of the head. Children were among the victims. On the table – a human skull, left as a souvenir. In the basement of the school there is a munitions depot, a lab for making weapons, a food warehouse, a kitchen, and bedrooms. Here are some more victims – men who were executed just before the rebels left the city. This was all discovered by Russian sappers. Before retreating, the rebels mined the eastern part of the city. Sappers have defused 10s of 1000s of trip-mines. They even mined the mosques – which says a lot about the rebels. These days, Aleppo is rebuilding its infrastructure, even resuming electricity to the city. Life is returning to normal, more or less. But this is not the most important thing about the liberation of Aleppo. The victory forced the countries supporting the rebels to engage in negotiations rather than threats. It forced the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ to at least start fighting the ‘Al Nusra Front’ terrorist group. In Astana, Kazakhstan,peace negotiations have begun, initiated by Russia. The first rounds brought some success. A ceasefire is in place, and a mechanism for monitoring the truce been developed. The process of separating the rebels one can include in the negotiations with the Nusra Front, with whom there is nothing to discuss, has begun. These talks are taking place without the participation of Western countries – which is probably the reason why they are progressing successfully. Victory in the savage battle for Aleppo, the northern capital of Syria, is perhaps the beginning of the end of this years-long war.