President Bashar al-Assad today congratulated Syrians on the “liberation” of Aleppo, as civilians and fighters evacuated the last rebel pocket of the city.
The city’s “liberation” was “history in the making and worthy of more than the word ‘congratulations’,” he said in a video posted on the presidency’s official social media accounts.
Al-Assad’s congratulations have come after his regime was widely condemned for brutal human rights violations.
Human Rights Watch has already urged the United Nations General Assembly to urgently mandate a UN monitoring team to travel immediately to areas of eastern Aleppo, now under government control, to deter future abuses, document crimes that have been committed, and visit detention sites.
“It has been heart-wrenching to hear the desperate pleas for protection from civilians stuck in the inferno that is Aleppo,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“The Syrian authorities should ensure that civilians are allowed to safely leave the city and to go where they want.”
In a statement, the HRW said that it had received worrying reports about possible reprisals against civilians in areas now held by government forces adding that the UN has said that it has received reports that pro-government forces executed 82 civilians in neighborhoods that have recently come under government control.
Meanwhile, the UN said that pro-government Syrian forces in eastern Aleppo had been killing people, including women and children, on the spot in their homes and on the street.
The UN’s human rights office, according to BBC, said that streets were full of bodies.