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Final stages for Aleppo: Syrian general

AAP logoAAP 12/12/2016 Laila Bassam and Lisa Barrington

The Syrian army and its allies are in the "last moments before declaring victory" in Aleppo, a Syrian military source says, after a rebel defence collapsed leaving insurgents in a tiny, heavily bombarded pocket of ground.

A Reuters journalist in the government-held zone said the bombardment of rebel areas of the city continued non-stop on Monday.

Rebels withdrew from all districts on the east side of the Aleppo river on Monday afternoon after losing Sheikh Saeed in the south of their pocket in overnight fighting, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

In government-held districts, soldiers started to fire into the air in celebration, carving tracer bullets into Aleppo's night sky, and car drivers honked their horns at what they believed was imminent victory, state television showed.

The rebels' rapidly diminishing enclave had halved in only a few hours and Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman described the battle for Aleppo as having reached its end.

The White Helmets civil defence organisation and three other trapped aid groups made a desperate appeal for the international community to arrange safe passage for 100,000 civilians across a four kilometre stretch of government-held territory.

Activists and two residents inside the remaining rebel enclave said at least 79 civilians were summarily executed in the Fardous and Saliheen districts by pro-government militias.

"There are more than 100 corpses and others who could be still alive under the rubble whom no one is able to get to," said civil defence chief Ammar al Selmo.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia, is now close to taking back full control of Aleppo, which was Syria's most populous city before the war and would be his greatest prize so far after nearly six years of conflict.

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