Closed for years, Aleppo airport reopens tomorrow. In response to Turkish threats, the Syrian President said that “the battle to liberate the countryside of Aleppo and Idleb will continue regardless”.
Damascus (AsiaNews) – Aleppo’s airport is set to reopen for the first time in years after the Syrian military last week retook almost all of the city’s surrounding region.
Anti-government rebel forces and the Al-Nusra and Daeshi terrorist groups had taken the airport in 2012 when they seized the eastern part of the city.
Work on upgrading the airport had began in 2016, followed in 2017 by the first test of the new runway.
Following tomorrow’s official reopening, the first plane, a domestic flight from Damascus, will land, Syria’s Transport Ministry announced. Plans are for more domestic and international flights to follow, including direct flights between Aleppo and Cairo.
In a rare and unusual move, a few hours after the reopening was announced, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad delivered a brief televised speech, carried by many national and pan-Arab TV broadcasters.
The president noted that Aleppo is now safe after the Syrian army successfully took back the areas west of Aleppo. For eight years, rockets had been fired from here against the city, sowing death and destruction among the civilian population.
“[W]e are fully aware that this liberation does not mean the end of the war, or the failure of schemes, or the disappearance of terrorism, or the surrender of enemies, but it certainly means [. . ] a prelude for [their] complete defeat, sooner or later,” Assad said.
Responding to Turkey’s threats, the Syrian President added that “the battle to liberate the countryside of Aleppo and Idleb will continue regardless of some empty sound bubbles coming from the north,”.
Likewise, “the battle for liberating all Syrian soil, crushing terrorism, and achieving stability will also continue.” To this end, the Syrian army “will never hesitate to carry out its national duties, and it will be as it always has been: an army from the people and for the people.”
Speaking about Russian forces, Assad described them without mentioning them directly as “our brothers, friends, and allies”
A Syrian military source told AsiaNews that the Turks were surprised by the fall of Al Rifeyn's defensive lines that extend from south-west of Aleppo to the southeastern limits of Idlib.
Faced with the inability of the forces it backed to hold back the Syrian advance, the Turkish army moved in further striking directly on the mistaken assumption that this would stop the Syrian advance.
Source added that, in light of the new situation, Turkey has had to quickly build a new defensive line, the last one before the Syrian-Turkish border at Bab el Hawa. Meanwhile, in Idlib, the battle continues.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Russia are in Moscow for a two-day meeting, trying to avoid a confrontation.
The Syrian government yesterday announced the opening of two more humanitarian corridors as civilians continue to flee combat zones.
The decision to retake Idlib, which has the highest concentration of terrorists and mercenaries in the world, or at least free the Aleppo Latakia highway, was apparently taken in Damascus.
This time, nothing or no one seems able of stopping the advance of the Syrian army.