UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- During a dramatic emergency UN Security Council meeting on Syria, the Russian UN ambassador announced that the fighting has ended in eastern Aleppo and that the Syrian government was back in control.
"The removal of the fighters was achieved a few hours ago," Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the 15-nation UN body on Tuesday.
"The fighters together with their families ... are going out in the direction they have chosen, including in the direction of Idlib," he said, referring to an opposition enclave.
"In the last hour we have received information that the military activity in eastern Aleppo has stopped," he said. "It has stopped. So there is no question about cessation of hostilities or humanitarian operations."
The council session opened with an impassioned plea from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his last weeks on the job, for a cessation of hostilities to allow humanitarian aid.
But then the Russian ambassador brought his own news.
"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 ... in Aleppo is now ended."
With the conclusion 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 for by Staffan de Mistura, the special Syria envoy of Ban.
"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 remain 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.
At the opening of the meeting, the secretary-general said, "During the last 48 hours, we have seen an almost complete collapse of armed opposition front lines, leaving them with only five percent of their original territory in the city. This came about after levels of bombardment that many witnesses describe as unprecedented."
"Civilian deaths and injuries continue at a brutal pace as the United Nations received credible reports of scores of civilians being killed either by intense bombardment or summary executions by pro-Government forces," he said. "We have seen shocking videos of a body burning in the street, ostensibly after aerial bombardment."
Ban added that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights "received reports of civilians, including women and children, in four neighborhoods being rounded up and executed."
Churkin earlier had questioned the validity of such reports when there was no access for UN humanitarian workers. He said representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross could not validate such reports.
At times, before Churkin's announcement, the council session was highly emotional among those ambassadors calling for a halt in fighting to allow humanitarian access.
"This is a dark day for the people of Aleppo, surely the darkest of the past five years," said Ambassador Matthew Rycroft of Britain.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces "propped up by Russia and Iran, have once again redefined horror. They have gone from siege to slaughter," he said.
He said that the United Nations had received reports that pro-government forces were entering homes in eastern Aleppo, "going door to door, executing people on the spot; 82 people murdered, 13 of whom were women, 11 were children. None were terrorists. We have heard reports of women committing suicide, in order not to be raped."
The UK envoy, listing additional atrocity reports, added, "All these reports evoke the darkest days of the history of the United Nations. So, re-find your moral compass."
New Zealand's Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen also appeared moved, repeatedly rapping his knuckles on the desk calling this his "Rwanda moment," referring to the UN's failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda 23 years ago.
"I choose to believe the secretary-general when he comes to this council and tells us there are credible reports of atrocities being committed," particularly, "when they say the issue is not terrorism, but it is barbarism," van Bohemen said.
Ambassador Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, was more leveled.
"The international community should ponder in-depth the underlying causes of the current situation and adopt integrated measures in search of comprehensive, fair and proper solution," he said.
"Given the complexity and sensitivity of current circumstances, it is all the more important for the international community to stay the course without wavering towards our overarching goal," Wu said. "That is, to seek a political settlement."
"We should work together to move the Syrian issue back to the parts of dialogue and consultation with the view to finding a once-for-all solution to the war and chaos as soon as possible," Wu said.
"Any efforts by the international community should be ... on all four tracks, namely resumption of ceasefire, political talks, joint counter-terrorism and humanitarian assistance."