First convoy of eastern Aleppo civilians reaches rebel-held territory

A World Health Organization official in Syria says the evacuation process is "going smoothly".

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Evacuees from eastern Aleppo disembark from buses upon their arrival to the town of al-Rashideen, Syria, December 15, 2016.

First civilian convoy from eastern Aleppo reaches opposition-held territory on Thursday as part of a ceasefire deal, officials said.

A World Health Organization official in Syria said that evacuation of civilians from eastern Aleppo was "going smoothly" and that "around 1,000" have left.

Elizabeth Hoff, the UN health agency's representative in Syria, said that checks of identity cards or the state of health had not been conducted yet among those being evacuated by bus and ambulance.

The office of the UN envoy for Syria said the evacuations would be "three-pronged," involving the sick and injured, vulnerable people and fighters.

Earlier, twenty buses and 13 ambulances drove out of the rebel-held part of Aleppo on Thursday, carrying people being evacuated as part of a ceasefire deal, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

The convoy of ambulances followed by a long line of green buses drove into the eastern part of the city from the nearby Ramousah district.

A Syrian official said 951 people were in the convoy of women, children, and injured, including opposition fighters.

Earlier, the convoy returned after it was fired upon by pro-Syrian militia. At least one evacuee was killed in the attack.

A separate evacuation of opposition fighters from Aleppo was also planned for Thursday. Russian soldiers were preparing to lead rebels out of Aleppo, the defence ministry in Moscow said.

Russia told a UN humanitarian task force meeting that the evacuation of more than 1,000 people from east Aleppo would be quick and peaceful, UN Syria humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said.

"Today Russia detailed how the evacuation would take place in the task force and they confirmed that Russians would be monitoring and that this is a swift, unbureaucratic, non-intrusive evacuation and no harm will meet these who are evacuated," he told reporters.


TRTWorld and agencies