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Assad’s Regime Seeks to Empty Aleppo in Exchange for 'Russian Guarantees' - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, London-The Bashar Assad regime has called on opposition fighters to leave the eastern suburbs of Aleppo in exchange for Russian guarantees, in a new sign showing the regime -with the support of Moscow-is seeking to produce a demographic change in Syria.

In a statement carried on Sunday by Syria’s state-run news agency SANA, the Syrian Army General Command called on all gunmen in the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo city to leave their positions for locals to be able to lead a normal life.

“The commands of the Syrian and Russian forces pledge a peaceful exit and providing necessary support for the gunmen willing to leave,” the statement said.

However, opposition sources in Aleppo revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper a plan to regain control of the areas where Syrian forces had lately advanced, such as the Canadian Hospital area.

“The opposition plans to surprise regime forces by attacking them in unexpected areas,” the sources said.

Activists and opposition forces also spoke about their readiness to revive an assault on the area of Kulliyat with the aim of creating a territory for new supplies in the Ramouseh area, in the southwestern part of the capital.

In parallel with the regime plan to empty Aleppo from opposition fighters, a Syrian group warned of a similar plan to deport Christians from outside the old quarter of Damascus, particularly the area of Bab Touma.

“The residents of Bab Touma are worried that their neighborhood becomes an unethical shelter for strangers who infringe on their honors and security,” the statement said, stressing the residents now fear their children could be kidnapped or attacked at any time.

“The residents now seek to travel to safer areas,” it added.

Informed sources from the Syrian capital told Asharq Al-Awsat that the security apparatus now directly controls the entire city of Damascus.

“Not a house can be sold, bought or rented without the approval of the security apparatus,” said the sources, who wished to remain anonymous.

The sources said the security agencies are planning to produce a demographic change in the capital in a way that suits their own interests.

The sources added that Bab Touma has now become the security stronghold of Iranian Shi’ites, with a task of monitoring the road leading to the Umayyad Mosque and the Sayyidah Ruqayya shrine.