By Maggie King
The streets of Aleppo, Syria are finally quiet. After a four-year battle over the biggest city in Syria, Russia has declared that the fight is over. The last remaining rebel fighters turned over their territory to the Syrian government. In the final days of the battle over Aleppo, the United Nations stated that they were receiving multiple reports of execution-style killings. As if the constant bombing and rising death toll were not enough, these additional killings indicated that a change desperately needed to be made. As civilians huddled in abandoned apartments awaiting arrest or death, a deal was announced. The deal itself called for an evacuation starting at 5pm on December 15th. However, departures were delayed and there were reports of renewed shelling. During this delay, there were reports of Syrian and allied Iraqi militias gunning down families in apartments. Ultimately, the death toll on the day of the evacuation quickly rose to eighty-two civilians.
What does all of this mean for the Syrian War? Rebel forces in Russia, Turkey, and Syria agreed to evacuate all remaining fighters to rebel-held territory. This means that Aleppo, in its entirety, is now in government hands. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government are now in control of all the territories surrounding the largest remaining rebel territory, Idlib. The evacuation of Aleppo is Assad’s largest success in the government’s “starve or surrender” strategy. Aleppo was a symbol of the anti-Assad insurgency, and the events that have happened there have been called the worst humanitarian tragedy of the twenty-first century. However, according to both sides, this is not the end of the war. In fact, some are saying Idlib is the new Aleppo. Now, as the Syrian War shifts its focus from Aleppo to Idlib, and America inaugurates its new president, Donald Trump, the world waits in anticipation for Syria’s next steps.