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Rediff News  All News  » News » The worst tragedy of the 21st century comes to an end... for now

The worst tragedy of the 21st century comes to an end... for now

Last updated on: December 14, 2016 08:48 IST

An ancient mosque that once stood proudly in the centre of Aleppo in Syria has been reduced to rubble as a ceasefire has begun effectively ending the brutal four year battle for the city.

The once grand Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo, also known as the ‘Great Mosque’ have revealed how it now lies in ruins.

IMAGE: The Umayyad mosque lays in ruins after the war savaged this beautiful UNESCO site. Nothing is left of the mosque but stone and debris. Photograph: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

IMAGE: Debris can be seen littering the ground in the mosque's courtyard as Syrian army troops inspect the damage to the ancient building. Photograph: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

It comes as a ceasefire deal has been struck between the pro-Syrian government forces and the rebels for them and the civilians still living there to evacuate the city safely.

This means that the battle for Aleppo, one of the worst of a civil war that has drawn in global and regional powers, has ended with victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his military coalition of Russia, Iran and regional Shi’ite militias.

IMAGE: Several of the walls surrounding the UNESCO-listed building have been destroyed. Photograph: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

By taking full control of Aleppo, Assad has proved the power of his military coalition, aided by Russia’s air force and an array of Shi’ite militias backed by Iran.

“Over the last hour we have received information that the military activities in east Aleppo have stopped, it has stopped,” said Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin late on Tuesday at a heated meeting of the UN Security Council. “The Syrian government has established control over east Aleppo.”

Meanwhile, Syrian forces were accused of ‘massacring 82 civilians in their homes’ during ‘the century’s worst humanitarian tragedy’.

IMAGE: The streets of the Old City of Aleppo are virtually unrecognisable after being bombarded by shells in some intense battles. Photograph: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

IMAGE: Militants in Aleppo said an agreement had been in place with Russia to cease bombardment in the city. A man pushes a cart with belongings as he flees deeper with another man into Aleppo, Syria. Photograph: Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

As reports of further atrocities emerged from Aleppo, France’s UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said ‘the worst humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century is unfolding before our eyes’.

Meanwhile, Aleppo citizens have posted harrowing ‘death bulletins’ pleading for help from the outside word as Syrian government forces swept through the city.

IMAGE: A man carries a child with an IV drip as he flees deeper into Aleppo. Photograph: Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

IMAGE: The UN human rights office says it has received reports of forces loyal to president Bashar al-Assad killing at least 82 civilians as they entered the last remaining strongholds of the rebels in eastern Aleppo. Photograph: Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

Terrified residents filmed themselves describing their plight in the besieged city with one doctor calling the situation ‘apocalyptic’ and another saying: ‘This may be my last video’.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, addressing the security council on the situation in Aleppo on Tuesday evening, said it was wishful thinking to believe that military advances would solve Syria’s crisis, and called for an immediate end to violence by all sides.

IMAGE: The carnage emerged as Syrian troops were poised to recapture all of the country's second city. Photograph: Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

IMAGE: A man holds a weapon while touring with others the streets as they celebrate what they say is the Syrian army's victory against the rebels, in Aleppo. Photograph: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

IMAGE: Residents of the sector gathered in the streets late into the night despite the rain, launching celebratory gunfire in a show of support for the army. Photograph: Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters