Desperate thousands await evacuation from Aleppo

December 17, 2016 | By | Reply More

Trapped Syrian civilians and fighters waited desperately Saturday for evacuations to resume from a rebel-held enclave in Aleppo as the Red Cross pleaded for a deal to “save thousands of lives”.

syrian civiliansA rebel representative told an agreement had been reached to allow more people to leave the city, which has been ravaged by some of the worst violence of the nearly six-year war that has killed more than 310,000 people.

But there was no confirmation from President Bashar al-Assad’s regime or its staunch allies Russia and Iran, which are under mounting international pressure to end what US President Barack Obama denounced as the “horror” in Aleppo.

Families spent the night in freezing temperatures in bombed out apartment blocks in Al-Amiriyah district, the departure point for evacuations before they were halted on Friday.

Abu Omar said that after waiting outside in the cold for nine hours the previous day, he had returned on Saturday only to be told the buses were not coming.

“There’s no more food or drinking water, and the situation is getting worse by the day,”  adding that his four children were sick because of the cold.

Dozens of trucks with humanitarian aid crossed the Turkish border Saturday into Syria, piling supplies in a buffer zone.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) appealed for safe passage for the thousands of people including women, children, sick and injured who waited through the night “in constant fear and anxiety”.

“People have suffered a lot. Please come to an agreement and help save thousands of lives,” said ICRC Syria delegation head Marianne Gasser.

“We cannot abandon these people.”

– Trading accusations –

The government blamed rebels for the suspension of the evacuation which began on Thursday, saying they had tried to smuggle out heavier weapons and hostages.

The opposition accused the government of halting the operation to try to secure the evacuation of residents from Fuaa and Kafraya, two villages under rebel siege in northwestern Syria.

“There will be evacuations from Fuaa and Kafraya, as well as Madaya and Zabadani, and all the residents of Aleppo and the fighters will leave,” he said.

But the government did not announce any deal.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura estimated that as of Thursday around 40,000 civilians and perhaps as many as 5,000 opposition fighters remained in Aleppo’s rebel enclave.

A Turkish official said 90 wounded from Aleppo have crossed into Turkey for treatment since Thursday.

– Women, children trapped –

Tens of thousands of civilians had already fled opposition-controlled parts of Aleppo after the regime began its assault in mid-November.

The main regional supporters of the rival sides in Syria’s devastating civil war engaged in a flurry of diplomacy to try to secure a resumption of evacuations.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA later said the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran would meet Tuesday in Moscow to discuss the Syria conflict.

In New York, the UN Security Council could vote as early as this weekend on a French-drafted proposal to allow international observers in Aleppo and ensure urgent aid deliveries.

Obama called Friday for impartial observers to monitor efforts to evacuate civilians, and warned Assad he would not be able to “slaughter his way to legitimacy”.

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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Category: Arab uprising

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