Russia tells UN Security Council fighting in eastern Aleppo 'has stopped'

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Photo taken on Dec. 13, 2016 shows the United Nations Security Council holding emergency meeting on Syria at the UN headquarters in New York. A Chinese envoy on Tuesday told the UN Security Council that it was high time for the international community to seek a political settlement to the Syrian crisis since current situation there is complex and sensitive. (Xinhua/Hu Yousong) 

Fighting between forces allied with the Syrian government and the opposition in eastern Aleppo "has stopped" and Damascus re-established control, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the UN Security Council here Tuesday.

"The removal of the fighters was achieved a few hours ago," Churkin told the 15-nation UN body at an emergency council meeting on Syria.

"The fighters together with their families ... are going out in the direction they have chosen, including in the direction of Idlib," he said.

"In the last hour we have received information that the military activity in eastern Aleppo has stopped, it has stopped. So there is no question about cessation of hostilities or humanitarian operations."

"The Syrian government has established control over east Aleppo, so now the stage has come for practical humanitarian initiatives that the population that remains there should not need to leave," Churkin said.

"There should be some civilians who do wish to leave from this destroyed city, but the military actions have stopped so this very difficult chapter related to the situation in eastern Aleppo is now ended."

With the end of fighting, the Moscow envoy said "Let's hope that this indeed will be a precondition for establishing the political efforts, re-launching of negotiations" as called by Staffan de Mistura, the special Syria envoy of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called the council session.

"There should be large-scale humanitarian support to those people of eastern Aleppo and to those people who have left the city and those who remained in the city and establish the preconditions so that those who left the city will as soon as possible be able to come back to their homes," Churkin said.

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