ALEPPO, Syria—Syrian rebel officials agreed to a cease-fire on Tuesday effectively turning over control of Aleppo to the government, in what many see as the besieged city’s liberation.
“The liberation of Aleppo put an end to the nightmare facing the Armenian community and the fear of losing relatives. The everyday shelling has ceased, but many complications still remain,” said Zarmig Boghigian, the editor-in-chief of the Aleppo-based Kantsasar weekly on her Facebook page.
“While we are enthusiastic about the recent developments, we have to remain realistic to not confuse people,” said Boghigian who added that part of the realism is to recognize that the five-year war in Syria was not yet over.
She said that among the complications facing all citizens of Aleppo is the lack of basic staples and services such as electricity. Boghigian added that municipal officials were working toward restoring services and “giving hope to the people.”
In a similar post on Monday, Boghigian said that some Aleppo Armenians were returning to their homes, but a complete re-population was still premature.
“Those who have relatives and friends have decided to return, but we do not have assurances that all can be back now. The city is only now recovering, with lots of parts still lying in ruins,” said Boghigian
“But safety is a priority, for which there are no guarantees,” said Boghigian ahead of Tuesday’s announcement of the rebels’ retreat.
Rebel resistance in Syria’s Aleppo ended on Tuesday after years of fighting and months of bitter siege and bombardment that culminated in a bloody collapse of their defenses this week, as insurgents agreed to withdraw in a ceasefire, reported Reuters on Tuesday.
Rebel officials said fighting would end on Tuesday evening and insurgents and the civilians who have been trapped in the tiny pocket of territory they hold in Aleppo would leave the city for opposition-held areas of the countryside to the west.
News of the deal was confirmed by Russia’s U.N. envoy.
“My latest information is that they indeed have an arrangement achieved on the ground that the fighters are going to leave the city,” Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters. It could happen “within hours maybe,” he said, according to Reuters.
A surrender or withdrawal of the rebels from Aleppo would mean the end of the rebellion in the city, Syria’s largest until the outbreak of war after mass protests in 2011.
By finally dousing the last embers of resistance burning in Aleppo, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military coalition of the army, Russian air power and Iran-backed militias will have delivered him his biggest battlefield victory of the war.