President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday congratulated Syrians on the “liberation” of Aleppo, as civilians and fighters evacuated the last rebel pocket of the city.
The city’s “liberation” was “history in the making and worthy of more than the word ‘congratulations’,” he said in a video posted on the presidency’s official social media accounts.
He described the army’s imminent capture of Aleppo as a turning point.
“I think that after the liberation of Aleppo we’ll talk about the situation as... before the liberation of Aleppo and after the liberation of Aleppo,” he said.
The video, apparently shot on a phone, was a far cry from the usual format in which Assad’s pronouncements appear, ordinarily in formal media encounters like interviews.
It came as a first group of evacuees left battered east Aleppo, which the army is on the verge of recapturing completely.
Rebels had held the east of the city since 2012, and the army last month launched a major assault to recapture all of Aleppo.