Hundreds leave besieged east Aleppo on first day of evacuation
Source: The Guardian
Red Cross says thousands more are due to make journey in coming days under deal brokered by Turkey and Russia
More than 2,000 people have been evacuated from besieged districts of east Aleppo under a deal brokered by Turkey and Russia and overseen by the Red Cross, and thousands more are expected to make the journey in the coming hours and days.
Thursday’s evacuations, carried out using ambulances and green buses, will end months of deprivation and suffering for some of the desperate residents of east Aleppo. They have been living under siege in a shrinking patch of land controlled by the opposition, surviving bombardment by forces loyal to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Iranian-backed militias and the Russian air force.
More than 1,000 people are thought to have been killed in the Syrian government’s latest campaign in Aleppo, and tens of thousands more have been displaced.
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 UN said had killed civilians in newly reclaimed areas.
The departures marked the beginning of the closing chapter of the rebellion in Aleppo. Half of the city was seized by the opposition in 2012 and since then it has been divided, the last major urban area in Syria where the rebels maintained an active presence.
A convoy of 13 ambulances and 20 buses transported nearly 1,000 people to a rebel-held town west of the city, and then returned to pick up a second group numbering 1,198.
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.