Syrian government forces have liberated 15 more eastern Aleppo neighborhoods in the last 24 hours, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria said, adding that the advance has allowed the Syrian Army to evacuate 1,200 residents of the city.
The Syrian authorities now “fully control 50 neighborhoods in the eastern part of [Aleppo] that account for 70 percent of the territory that was initially controlled by the militants,” the Reconciliation Center’s statement reads.
On Wednesday, 1,224 civilians were able to flee militant-held areas for government-controlled neighborhoods, as the Syrian Army continued its offensive. The people have been provided with water, food, and medical assistance at humanitarian centers set up by Russia.
At the same time, 66 militants laid down their arms and left for western Aleppo, the statement adds. In accordance with the Syrian president’s offer, all militants who are local residents were immediately pardoned.
Earlier, SANA news agency also reported that governmental forces had liberated the Old City and evacuated more than 200 civilians from that area.
On Wednesday, Syrian government forces were able to seize control over two districts north of the Aleppo Citadel – the Aghiour and Bab al-Hadid neighborhoods – as militants left their positions and retreated further south, the news agency added.
Tuesday saw the Syrian Army also take control over the Karm al-Dada, Karm al-Qatirji, al-Shaar and al-Marjeh neighborhoods located in the southern and eastern parts of the city, as well as the al-Sheikh Lutfi area.
On Wednesday, Syrian Reconciliation Minister Dr. Ali Haidar called the advance of the Syrian Army a “strategic victory”that would prevent foreign intervention, as reported by Reuters.
"Those who believed in the Syrian triumph know that [the militants’] morale is at its lowest and that these collapses that have begun are like domino tiles," he said.
The militant groups entrenched in eastern Aleppo asked the Syrian government for an immediate ceasefire, citing the need to evacuate wounded fighters as Syrian forces advanced deeper into the militant-held areas.
The proposal, which envisages a five-day truce, was presented by the Aleppo command center that reportedly represents an alliance of various armed groups fighting government forces in the eastern part of the war-torn city, AP reports.
According to the proposal, the truce is needed to facilitate the evacuation of the wounded militants to the northern part of the Aleppo province controlled by Turkey, dpa news agency reports. The militants said that they are not satisfied with the government proposals allowing them to leave Aleppo and move to the Idlib province, as they no longer see it as a safe option, dpa adds.
A militant spokesman said that Al-Nusra Front, an extremist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda that also is present in Aleppo, would also observe the terms of the truce, according to AP. The offer said nothing about militants leaving Aleppo and stressed instead that the fate of the city would be discussed after the “humanitarian crisis resolution.”
The Syrian government rejected the proposal, insisting that the militants should leave the city. "We will not accept any truce," Fares Shehabi, an MP for Aleppo, told dpa by telephone. "If they do not leave we will continue our attack," he warned.
Meanwhile, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the militants are still free to leave Aleppo and that this proposal is still in force.
“As for the militants leaving [Aleppo] … they were offered to leave and that topic was discussed earlier,” he told journalists, adding that “this issue is in fact still on the agenda.”
He also expressed his regret that the militants still reject this proposal. “Unfortunately, only a few left [the city] so far [and] most militants still stay [there],” he said.
Battles continue between pro-government forces and insurgents in Aleppo’s Old City, with Damascus slowly winning back territory. RT’s Lizzie Phelan and her crew were the first journalists to visit the neighborhoods just captured by the government.
“It is still not entirely safe here. The opposition forces are only a couple of hundreds of meters away. The area needs to be cleaned from unused weapons and mines left,” she reported by phone.
She said her crew saw many weapons abandoned by the militants stashed in buildings, including the home-made gas cylinder rockets they have been using to shell government forces.
“The battle to take the old city over the last few days has been extremely fierce. Opposition forces have been desperate to fight back and prevent government advances. They have been relentlessly shelling the government-held areas of Aleppo. There have been many civilian casualties [there],” Phelan added.
The footage, her film crew took in an area of the Old City captured by the government overnight, shows a mortar position, equipped by the terrorists in the courtyard of a former bakery and used to fire at western Aleppo.
Phelan added that residents of the captured areas now have the chance to escape the frontline and meet relatives they had been separated from. The terrorists and rebel militants prevented civilians from leaving for the government-held part of the city.
“Many of those people have not seen their relatives for over four years,” she said.
Meanwhile, Syrian government forces have taken twelve more districts in eastern Aleppo over the last 24 hours, according to the Russia-backed Center for Syrian Reconciliation. Forty-seven districts are now said to be under the Syrian Army’s control.