Aleppo rebel evacuation under way after ceasefire deal

Aleppo rebel evacuation under way after ceasefire deal
# 15 December 2016 17:01 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. An operation to evacuate thousands of civilians and fighters from the last rebel bastion in Aleppo began on Thursday, part of a ceasefire deal that would end years of fighting for the city and mark a major victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, APA reports quoting Reuters.

A convoy of ambulances and buses with nearly 1,000 people aboard drove out of the devastated rebel-held area of Aleppo, which was besieged and bombarded for months by Syrian government forces, a Reuters reporter on the scene said.

A Syrian official source told Reuters that a second convoy was likely to bring people out on Thursday.

Women cried out in celebration as the buses passed through a government-held area, and some waved the Syrian flag.

An elderly woman, who had gathered with others in a government area to watch the convoy set off, raised her hands to the sky, saying: "God save us from this crisis, and from the (militants). They brought us only destruction."

Wissam Zarqa, an English teacher in the rebel zone, said most people were happy to be leaving safely. But he said: "Some of them are angry they are leaving their city. I saw some of them crying. This is almost my feeling in a way."

Earlier, ambulances trying to evacuate people came under fire from fighters loyal to the Syrian government, who injured three people, a rescue service spokesman said.

"Thousands of people are in need of evacuation, but the first and most urgent thing is wounded, sick and children, including orphans," said Jan Egeland, the U.N. humanitarian adviser for Syria.

Turkey is considering establishing a camp in Syria for civilians being evacuated from Aleppo and the number of people brought out of the city could reach 100,000, Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said.

In Aleppo's rebel-held area, columns of black smoke could be seen as residents hoping to depart burned personal belongings they do not want to leave for government forces to loot.

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THE OPERATION IS BEING PERFORMED