Syrians leaving eastern Aleppo arrive in Khan al-Assal region, which is under rebel control. Photo: Baraa al-Halabi/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish forces will have to hand over control of their enclave of Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo to Damascus by the end of the year, said a military analyst who is close to the Syrian president.
After Syrian victory in eastern Aleppo, the government will take control of the whole city, Ali Maqsud told Rudaw. The Syrian government will prompt the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to hand over their positions in the city to the Syrian army, he said.
Damascus announced Thursday evening that it is now in control of Aleppo after the last civilians and rebel fighters evacuated the eastern neighbourhoods.
“The general command of the armed forces announces the return of security to Aleppo after its release from terrorism and terrorists, and the departure of those who stayed there,” reads a statement issued by the army’s general command.
The announcement came shortly after Syrian state TV reported that the final busloads of civilians and rebel fighters had left eastern Aleppo, ending the opposition’s four-year hold in the city.
“This great achievement will be a strong incentive to resume the national duties and eliminate terrorism as well as restore security and stability to every span of the homeland,” the general command’s statement added.
Sheikh Maqsoud is now the only area of the city not under Damascus’ control. It is a predominantly Kurdish area that is under the control and protection of the YPG. It is also hosting more than 10,000 civilians who fled army advances into eastern Aleppo, the World Food Programme (WFP) reported last week.
Maqsud said that Damascus held meetings with Kurdish leaders and gave them until the end of December to vacate the city.
The YPG and the Syrian army have clashed sporadically throughout the six-year civil war but have largely avoided sustained confrontation.
The Syrian army has been accused of committing war crimes in Aleppo and across the country, including deliberately targeting civilians and using banned weapons. Its victory in Aleppo comes as the UN General Assembly voted to establish a special team to collect and analyze evidence of war crimes in Syria.
More than 400,000 people have died in the war and half the population of Syria has been displaced.