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Syria

Evacuation from east Aleppo back on track

A convoy of some 20 buses has left Aleppo, while hundreds of people were also leaving villages besieged by the rebels, officials and activists reported. The UN has prepared a resolution to monitor the evacuation process.

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Evacuations from east Aleppo resume

Sources from the ground reported on Monday, that after hours of delay, the evacuation effort in Aleppo has recommenced.

Dr. Ahmad Dbis, who heads a team of doctors and volunteers coordinating evacuations, said "about 20 buses carrying people from Aleppo have arrived" at a predetermined evacuation point west of the city.

"There are about 1,200 to 1,300 people here," he said, adding that some of the evacuees were in a "terrible state."

"They hadn't eaten, they had nothing to drink, the children had caught colds, they were not even able to go to the toilet," he told the AFP news agency.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is monitoring the Syrian conflict via a network of activists in the country, confirmed that the Aleppo evacuation was underway.

According to UNICEF, 47 children from an orphanage in eastern Aleppo have been brought to safety.

At the same time, the Observatory said that hundreds of people were being bussed out of besieged pro-regime villages Foua and Kfarya. Some 2,000 sick and wounded people are set to leave the villages, after their evacuation was also disrupted by Islamic extremists who held up and destroyed several buses on Sunday.

Ten buses from the Idlib villages have already arrived in government-held areas of Aleppo, according to Syrian state television.

'Dignified evacuation'

According to the UN, around 40,000 civilians remain trapped in the last rebel-held corner of Aleppo, which has witnessed a bloody campaign by regime forces backed by Russian airstrikes regain much of the city.

The evacuation comes as the UN Security Council prepares to vote on a compromise draft resolution on Monday that would mandate the immediate deployment of UN monitors to observe the process.

Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, said the resolution would place more than 100 personnel on the ground to monitor evacuation efforts, which have been coordinated by Turkey, Russia and the Syrian regime.

"The text contains all the elements for safe, secure, dignified evacuation, for humanitarian access to those who choose to remain in eastern Aleppo," Power said.

Talks in Moscow

Turkey's foreign ministry told international media in Istanbul on Monday that foreign and defence ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey were due to meet in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss the future of Syria and the city of Aleppo.

"[The meeting] will be to understand the views of all three sides, laying out where we all stand and discuss where we go
from here," an official from Turkey's foreign ministry said.

"It is not a miracle meeting, but will give all sides a chance to listen to each other," he added.

All three countries have emerged as important players in the Syria conflict. While Iran and Russia strongly backing President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey - which is also a NATO member - would like to see him step down.

Turkey's main priority however, is to ensure that Kurdish militias are prevented from gaining further territory in Syria along the Turkish border. 

ksb,dj,ls/cmk,tj (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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