Aleppo evacuation to resume as deal is reached

Aleppo evacuation to resume as deal is reached
Rebels will allow some 4,000 people to leave besieged regime-controlled villages of al-Fuaa and Kefraya as part of a new deal to resume the evacuation of eastern Aleppo on Saturday.
2 min read
17 December, 2016
Thousands had been evacuated before the process was suspended [Anadolu]
An agreement to allow the complete evacuation of rebel-held parts of eastern Aleppo was reached on Saturday, a Syrian rebel commander told news channel al-Arabiya.

The new deal comprised the evacuation of "humanitarian cases" from two Shia villages besieged by rebels in north-western Syria in return for the full evacuation of Aleppo, rebel official al-Farouk Abu Bakr said.

The deal, which will see the evacuation of some 4,000 people from the government-controlled villages of al-Fuaa and Kefraya, is expected to start on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

It also includes the evacuation of rebel-held towns of Madaya and Zabadani near the border with Lebanon, where tens of thousands of people are trapped under sieged by pro-regime forces.

A previous agreement to evacuate Aleppo was breached "by pro-government militas" who detained "hundreds" of people trying to leave, Abu Bakr told al-Arabiya.

"Now we are working on international guarantees to guarantee the safety of those who leave Aleppo so that such violations are not repeated," he said.

A Syrian regime official confirmed a deal was reached.

"It was agreed to resume evacuations from east Aleppo in parallel with the evacuation of [medical] cases from Kefraya and al-Fuaa and some cases from Zabadani and Madaya," a source, who is part of the evacuations negotiating team, told Reuters

However al-Qaeda-affiliate Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, has not yet agreed to the evacuation of the two besieged regime towns in Idlib province, Reuters reported citing a source close to the rebel group.

The evacuation of Aleppo was suspended on Friday following
reports of shooting at a crossing point into the enclave, which opposition blamed on pro-regime forces.

In announcing the suspension, Syrian state TV said on Friday that rebels were trying to smuggle out captives who had been seized in the enclave after ferocious battles with troops supporting Assad.

Before evacuations were suspended on Friday, around 8,500 people, including some 3,000 fighters, left for rebel-held territory elsewhere in the north, according to the Syrian Observatory.

The Russian defence ministry has claimed that only hardline rebel fighters remained in the territory, following an earlier announcement that the city had been evacuated.

But World Health Organization country representative Elisabeth Hoff said civilians remain trapped inside the city.

"There are still high numbers of women and infants - children under five - that need to get out."