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With Aleppo battle won, Syria and Russia look to 'next stage'

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By Sarah Chappell  with AP, Reuters
With Aleppo battle won, Syria and Russia look to 'next stage'

The rubble of war is being cleared from the streets of eastern Aleppo, after the last groups of rebels were removed from the city this week.

The Syrian army announced on Friday that it had fully retaken control of Aleppo for the first time since 2012.

One Syrian said: “We have not been here (Aleppo) for five years. Our joy is very great. After the army liberated the city, we came here to see our homes.”

On Friday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for having been Syria’s main partner in the battle, and said the city’s fall had opened the door to a political process.

“The next stage,” Putin said on Friday, “should be an agreement on a ceasefire for the whole of Syria’s territory and right after it the beginning of talks on political settlement.”

Putin also said that Russia, Iran, Turkey and Assad’s government would launch new round of peace talks, set to begin in January in Kazakhstan.