The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Thousands evacuated from Aleppo as 50,000 remain trapped Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Thousands evacuated from Aleppo as 50,000 remain trapped

Evacuees vowed to return to their homes [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 December, 2016

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Some 3,000 people were evacuated from east Aleppo on Thursday under a new deal struck between rebels and regime forces, while another 50,000 people remain trapped in the city.

Thousands of civilians and rebels left east Aleppo on Thursday under an evacuation deal that will allow the Syrian regime to take full control of the city after years of fighting, while some 50,000 remain trapped in the city.

Three convoys left Aleppo carrying wounded civilians, fighters and their families, with mostly civilians leaving on buses and ambulances.

"Some 3,000 civilians and more than 40 wounded, including children, were brought out," the head of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) in Syria, Marianne Gasser, said after the first two convoys left.

"No one knows how many people are left in the east, and the evacuation could take days," she added.

However UN envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Paris Thursday that around 50,000 people were still trapped in the rebel-held parts of the city.

"There are 50,000 people, including 40,000 civilians unfortunate enough to live in that part of the city. The rest are fighters, numbering between 1,500 and 5,000, and their families," he said.

The head of the UN-backed humanitarian taskforce for Syria, Jan Egeland, said in Geneva that most of those evacuated from Aleppo would head to opposition strongholds in Idlib province, in Syria's northwest.

De Mistura however warned that "Idlib will become the next Aleppo" if a ceasefire and political agreement for Syria is not found.

Idlib is largely controlled by the Army of Conquest, a coalition dominated by former al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front and includes Islamist rebel factions Ahrar al-Sham and Faylaq al-Sham.

The evacuations come a month to the day after Syrian regime forces and allied militias launched a major offensive to retake all of Aleppo, and will hand the regime its biggest victory in more than five years of civil war.

An initial evacuation deal reached Tuesday was blocked by Iran, which imposed new conditions on the agreement, including the evacuation of some civilians from two pro-regime Shia villages in Idlib under rebel siege.

30 vehicles were headed to Fouaa and Kafraya to evacuate sick and wounded residents, the governor of neighbouring Hama province, Mohamed al-Hazouri, told state news agency SANA.

A Syrian source on the ground told AFP that "1,200 injured and sick people and their families will be evacuated."

More than 465 civilians died in east Aleppo during the assault and another 149 were killed by rebel rocket fire on government-held areas, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

More than 310,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in 2011 with anti-government protests, and over half the population has been displaced, with millions becoming refugees.

Agencies contributed to this report.

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More