Evacuations from Aleppo resume, says Syrian TV | News | DW | 21.12.2016
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Evacuations from Aleppo resume, says Syrian TV

The evacuation of residents from east Aleppo resumed after rebels reached an agreement with the Syrian government. The evacuation is expected to be complete in a few hours.

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Aleppo evacuations resume

The evacuation for those remaining in the final rebel-held enclave in eastern Aleppo has resumed after the rebels and the government agreed to new terms, according to Syrian state media and activists.

"An agreement has been reached to resume the evacuation of Aleppo," said Ahmad Qara Ali, a spokesman for the Ahrar al-Sham rebel faction.

Both the rebels and Syrian government have blamed one another for the delay. Syrian state media said Tuesday that "differences among terrorist groups" held up evacuations in Aleppo and the rebel-held villages of Foua and Kfarya. The government calls all opposition fighters terrorists. The rebels are supposed to allow the evacuation of the sick and injured from the two villages as part of a cease-fire deal agreed to last week in order to ensure the safe evacuation of those from Aleppo.

Waiting to leave

About 3,000 rebel fighters and civilians were outside in frigid, snowy weather overnight, waiting for what might be the final chance to leave the area. The opposition agreed to surrender their final stronghold in Aleppo to the Syrian government last week.

A convoy of 60 buses was ready to depart early Wednesday when the deal met a last-minute snag, but buses are moving again, according to an UN official in Syria. The evacuation was delayed by approximately 24 hours.

"Buses are now moving again from east Aleppo. We hope that this continues so that people can be safely evacuated," said the official in an email to Reuters news agency.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says the buses are heading to a rebel-controlled area in the western Aleppo countryside.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it evacuated 750 from Foua and Kfarya, with 1,500 more requiring evacuation according to the deal. The ICRC says it has already evacuated 25,000 from Aleppo since the operation began last week. But the observatory says that number is closer to 17,000.

kbd/rc (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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