Middle East

Aleppo story grips Middle East media

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Syrian civilians leave towards safer rebel-held areas in Aleppo, on December 13, 2016, Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Government-owned Iran says that the "fate of civilians" is the "dominant topic of discussion among opponents of the Syrian government".

Syrian and Iranian media are celebrating the "liberation" of Aleppo, with some seeing it as a blow for Saudi Arabia.

But allegations by the US's envoy to the United Nations, Samantha Power, of the killing of civilians by Syrian government forces and their allies - vigorously denied by her Russian counterpart Vitaly Churkin - are on the minds of the wider region's commentators.

'Thriving'

Syrian state TV is painting a rosy picture of the situation in Aleppo, which it says is thriving.

And the regime's dailies support this view. Umran Mahfod in government-owned Tishrin says "Aleppo city has defeated the terrorists". He praises the people of Aleppo, who "carried out their duty in protecting the city against the invaders".

Writing in Al-Baath, the mouthpiece of the ruling Arab Socialist Baath Party, Ahmed Hassan believes "it is only a matter of time until the Syrian army retakes the whole city of Aleppo... it is a fact that cannot be denied or changed".

Image copyright Syrian State TV
Image caption Syrian state TV continued to celebrate the retaking of Aleppo with a special logo

But the Syrian anti-government Enab Baladi website has turned all its news boxes on Aleppo red. And pro-opposition Orient TV is describing the situation as "Russia's own Srebrenica massacre with international approval".

Image copyright Enab Baladi
Image caption Enab Baladi website has turned all its news boxes on Aleppo red

Meanwhile, Iranian media are jubilant about Aleppo, which they say is being "liberated" from rebels by President Bashar al-Assad's forces with help from Russia and Iran.

'Liberation'

Rolling news channel IRINN reports that total "liberation" is imminent, but Iranian dailies are already celebrating "victory".

"Victory in mother of all battles; terrorists defeated in Aleppo," hard-line Javan declares. Keyhan, also hard-line, believes "the horns of America and the Saudi ruling family have been broken". And moderate Arman-e Emruz agrees, saying "Aleppo's liberation amounts to defeat of Saudi Arabia".

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption These tweets reported preparations to evacuate the wounded but later claimed that pro-government forces were preventing this

Meanwhile, conservative Resalat points out that "taking control of Aleppo is the Damascus government's biggest trump card in negotiations with the Syrian opposition". "This winning card will make the opposition groups accept the legitimate demands of the Syrian government", it predicts.

Popular daily Jaam-e Jam accuses "the pro-terrorist triumvirate of the Western, Hebrew and Arabic media" of boycotting the news of Aleppo's "liberation".

And government-owned Iran complains of a "lack of positive reactions" from the West. It notes that the "fate of civilians" is the "dominant topic of discussion among opponents of the Syrian government".

Iranian netizens have taken note of Samantha Power's accusations. Some have reacted angrily, despising US hypocrisy.

"Is it that American jets kill only military forces and Russian jets kill only civilians?!" user @jamal_ameli asks.

Image copyright Aida Ahadiany / Twitter

But some are unhappy about Iran's role in Syria. "Although I could not understand all this time what exactly is happening is Syria, every time I hear the names of Aleppo, children and Iran together, I die of shame," user @AidaAhadiany tweets.

'Immediate action'

The allegations of civilian massacres have been picked up by the regional media. Pan-Arab TV channel Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV reported that "Syrian government forces have killed many civilians in Aleppo".

The TV follows it up with a statement by Mr Churkin that there has not been even one infraction of the rules of war by Syria or Russia.

Nonetheless, Qatari daily Al-Watan calls for "immediate action to stop massacres against the Syrian people". What are the Arabs waiting for, the paper demands.

Khaled al-Harbi in Saudi paper Ukaz agrees. "Aleppo is being destroyed by the silence of the world," he says, adding that "Aleppo is burning and the world is watching".

And Kuwaiti private Al-Qabas is angered by the "fascist Syrian regime", which it accuses of "killing its people cold-bloodedly, with the help of Russia and the sectarian militias".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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