After years of some of the worst fighting in the Syrian Civil War, the battle for Aleppo seems to be over. On December 22, the last rebel fighters left the city. Since then, some residents who fled the city have returned.
Throughout the months of November and December, as fighting intensified and casualties increased, several short-term ceasefires were reached. None of these lasted for more than a few days, one being as short as two hours. Most of these ceasefires were negotiated by Russia, a supporter of the Syrian regime and Turkey, a supporter of many rebel groups, opposed to the government. Towards the end of the battle, as regime forces who were supported by Russian airstrikes and Iranian-backed militia closed in on rebel holdouts in East Aleppo, the carnage steadily increased as winter set in and supplies of food and other essentials ran out while the city was bombed relentlessly by Syrian regime and Russian planes. Scenes of children killed or injured by the fighting flooded the internet.
Russian and Turkish officials tried to enforce more ceasefires towards the end of the fighting in order to allow civilians and surrendering rebels to escape from the city amid mounting international pressure. While many civilians were able to exit Aleppo, there were allegations of rebel groups and Iranian militias abusing refugees.
On 22 December, the battle of Aleppo finally ended with all neighborhoods of the city under regime control. This is a major blow to moderate rebel groups not only militarily but also diplomatically as those who did not surrender, fled to the city of Idlib. Idlib is controlled by rebel groups that include affiliates of Al Qa’ida.