After four grueling years under the Al-Qaeda jackboot, and a nearly two-year long siege and battle, Syria's largest city was declared officially liberated. The last of the Terrorist forces trapped in the Southeast Redoubt send up the white flag about three hours ago. After terms of surrender were negotiated, Syrian General Said Saleh reported a successful conclusion of the battle to President Bashir Assad.
Assad announced the news to a jubilant population on SANA television before leaving for Aleppo to give his personal congratulations to his victorious troops. Reports state that both Aleppo residents and returning refugees are pouring into the streets in wild celebration and the city's mosques and churches are filled to capacity with grateful citizens.
The Battle of Aleppo was truly an international effort. Besides the Syrians, military forces from Iraq, Russia, China, Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Egypt all participated in the liberation. Russia, Iran, and the United Nations all coordinated one of the greatest humanitarian relief efforts in history against the backdrop of the Battle---in which several volunteers sacrificed their own lives.
Al-Qaeda reportedly surrender after their top commander was killed. Whether this happened because of the Allied advance or at the hands of his own mutinous troops is not yet known. Al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups lost an estimated 40,000 of their worldwide forces in Aleppo. While there are a few Al-Qaeda bands still at large in the rural districts of Western Syria, the Al-Qaeda scourge is effectively wiped out as a major threat in Syria.
The victory also foiled the various schemes of Western politicians and international criminals who have been using Al-Qaeda as a proxy for their activities.
The job though is far from over. Rebuilding the devastated city and repatriating scores of thousands of refugees will require another international effort. And ISIS---which began a feint against Palmyra this week, still holds Raqqa and Mosul and is still deeply entrenched in Deir Ezzur.
But for Aleppo, a city of over 2 million people, Christmas 2016 brought the greatest gift of all---the gift of freedom.