Syria: Evacuation of east Aleppo underway during ceasefire

    Syria: Evacuation of east Aleppo underway during ceasefire

    Dec.15, Aleppo: The evacuation of the eastern part of the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo has begun with ambulances and buses carrying the wounded and sick leaving the rebel-held territory in the city under a fragile exit deal.

    A slow-moving convoy of around two dozen vehicles snaked out of Al-Amiriyah district and crossed into government-held Ramussa en route to rebel-held territory in the west of Aleppo province.

    However, Ibrahim Abu Allaith of the Syrian Civil Defence told Al Jazeera that militias loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly killed at least one person and injured four more while firing on the convoy of injured evacuees.

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    AFP news agency reported that the first batch of convoy was led by vehicles from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, followed by ambulances and then green government buses.

    ICRC spokeswoman Ingy Sedky said the first convoy included 13 ambulances and 20 buses carrying civilians. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported a total of 21 buses and 19 ambulanes had left east Aleppo.

    "They have crossed the front line and are on their way to rural parts of western Aleppo," Sedky told AFP.

    The evacuation on Thursday was part of a ceasefire expected to last three days and result in the transfer of thousands of civilians and fighters from the embattled territory.

    Zouhir Al Shimale, an independent journalist in east Aleppo, said the evacuation was still under way despite the attacks on an ambulance.

    "There hasn't been fighting since the morning," he told Al Jazeera, explaining that "hundreds of families" have gathered at the departure point for the buses.

    "Civilians are given the choice to stay or leave. If they stay, they'll be under regime control. Most of the people want to go because they are afraid of potential massacres by the regime," Shimale added.

    "In recent days, people are desperate to get to somewhere where we have the supplies - food, medicine, fuel - like we used to have in the days before the siege. Even if they are in refugee camps, but people still want to leave the besieged area."

    As part of the agreement, the Russian defence ministry said that it was preparing for the transfer of rebel fighters by buses and ambulances to Idlib city, located around 65 kilometres from Aleppo.

    The Oslo Times International News Network


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