Thousands leave east Aleppo on first day of evacuation
London [UK], Dec. 16 (ANI): More than 2,000 people have been evacuated and thousands more are expected to make the journey from besieged districts of east Aleppo under a deal brokered by Turkey and Russia.
Thursday's evacuations, carried out using ambulances and green buses, will end months of deprivation and suffering for the residents of east Aleppo, who had been living under siege surviving bombardment by forces loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iranian-backed militias and the Russian air force, reports the Guardian.
Many of those in the besieged areas have been living without functioning hospitals or much running water or electricity. They faced a choice of making a last stand or surrendering to the regime's allied militias, who the United Nation said had killed civilians in newly reclaimed areas.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is overseeing the evacuation deal along with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, said the evacuations would continue through the night.
The UN humanitarian adviser for Syria, Jan Egeland, said the operation was three-pronged, involving the evacuation of the sick and wounded, vulnerable civilians, and fighters.
He estimated the number of civilians to be evacuated at 30,000.
The new deal to evacuate the people of east Aleppo came after the collapse of an agreement the previous day over Iranian objections
The latest agreement allows for the evacuation of civilians and wounded, as well as rebel fighters bearing small arms, from besieged areas of the city, with Turkey and Russia acting as guarantors. The deal began with a ceasefire at midnight local time in Aleppo.
The Turkish government has said it is prepared to receive the wounded and is readying refugee camps to house as many as 80,000 people in northern Syria and inside Turkey.
Meanwhile, Assad hailed the fall of Aleppo as a historic turning point. In a video released by his office, the Syrian president said: "What is happening today is the writing of history." (ANI)