General massacre feared with fall of Aleppo

Pro-Assad forces are on the verge of capturing all remaining opposition-held areas of Syria's largest city Aleppo, with fears of death or detention for tens of thousands of civilians. Regime troops and allied Iranian-led foreign and paramilitary forces, supported by intense Russian air-strikes, took all but a few remaining districts on Dec. 12. Claims circulate of the execution of scores of civilians in districts that have fallen to pro-regime forces. Residents and activists spoke of widespread detention of fighting-age men. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office issued a statement voicing alarm over "reports of atrocities against a large number of civilians, including women and children, in recent hours in Aleppo." UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said Assad and Russia will be held "accountable for any and all atrocities that the victorious militias in Aleppo are now committing."

As pro-regime forces advance, residents have sent messages of despair or resignation. Aleppo blogger Lina Shamy tweeted a short video statement: "To everyone who can hear me, we are here exposed to a genocide." Damascus state media meanwhile broadcast images of Aleppo residents celebrating. The Syrian military said final victory was hours away.

Moscow effectively confirmed that it had sought US cooperation on a removal of rebels and civilians from Aleppo. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference in Belgrade: "From Dec. 3 when we met John Kerry in Rome they supported such a concept [total rebel withdrawal] and even gave us their approval on paper. But after three days they revoked that agreement and returned to their old, dead-end position which comprises this: before the agreement on corridors there has to be a truce… As I understand, this would just mean the rebels would get a break."

Last weekend a US-Russian proposal was presented to the opposition for the withdrawal of rebels, families, and civilians. However, as pro-Assad forces renewed their advance, Moscow denied any agreement with Washington.

Lavrov also broached a possible US conspiracy, saying the current ISIS re-capture of Palmyra from the Assad regime may have been "orchestrated, coordinated" by the US-led coalition “to give a break to those bandits that are in eastern Aleppo." (EA Worldview, BBC News, Dec. 13)

  1. US complicit in Aleppo genocide

    The Kerry was willing to meet with Lavrov to try to work out terms for the evacuation of Aleppo is yet further evidence of US de facto collaboration with Assad—even if he balked at the ludicrous notion of an evacuation while the bombing continued, apparently Lavrov's demand. This effectively makes the US complicit—perhaps even a partner—in what already amounts to genocide.

    Lavrov's conspiracy theory about Palmyra is grimly hilarious. In fact, ISIS is now taking Palmyra because Russia and Assad for the past months have been concentrating all their effort on taking Aleppo from the FSA. This while pretending to fight ISIS

    Boundless cynicism.

  2. Chemical attack reported near Palmyra

    In its desperation to take back Pamyra while still mopping up in Aleppo, the Assad regime may be resorting again to chemical weapons. Sources in Hama governorate reported seeing dead bodies with no visible injuries following rocket attacks, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The death toll was put at at least 40 by activists in Hama. (BBC News, Reuters)