SYRIAN REBEL GROUPS have announced a new ceasefire deal that would see the evacuation of wounded people and civilians from opposition-held districts of Aleppo the following morning.
But a source close to Syria’s government denied the development, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said hostilities were ongoing.
The announcement came after a previous deal to evacuate both rebels and civilians was put on hold today, with the opposition, the Syrian government, and their backers trading accusations for the agreement’s suspension.
Officials from the Nureddin al-Zinki and the hardline Ahrar al-Sham rebel groups confirmed to AFP that the truce deal had come into effect in second city Aleppo.
“A ceasefire has come into effect in Aleppo after negotiations between the Russians and the Turkish Red Crescent,” said Yasser al-Youssef, a Nureddin al-Zinki political official.
“The first group of civilians and wounded people will leave at dawn on Thursday,” Youssef told AFP.
He said an agreement on rebels had also been reached but did not give details on their evacuation.
It was unclear whether the new deal included a condition that wounded people would also be evacuated from Fuaa and Kefraya, two Shiite-majority towns in northwest Syria.
Ahrar al-Sham’s Ahmad Qura Ali confirmed a ceasefire had come into effect and that injured people and civilians would be transferred out of Aleppo in the morning.
But news of the deal was denied by a source close to Syria’s government, who said fighting was still ongoing across the city.
“There is no agreement, the negotiations are ongoing,” the source said.
Syria, its allies Russia and Iran, and rebel backer Turkey had been locked in negotiations to revive the agreement.
Meanwhile, the US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power (originally from Ireland) yesterday launched into an extraordinary attack on Russia, Syria and Iran, condemning their assault on Aleppo.
“Three member states of the UN contributing to a noose around civilians,” said Power.
“It should shame you. Instead by all appearances it is emboldening you.
Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin?
The United Nations said yesterday it had received credible reports of at least 82 civilians, including 11 women and 13 children, being executed by pro-government forces in Aleppo in recent days.
In Geneva, UN rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said pro-government fighters had in some cases entered homes and killed those inside, and in others “caught and killed on the spot” fleeing civilians.
The UN was “filled with the deepest foreboding for those who remain in this last hellish corner of opposition-held eastern Aleppo,” he said.
Witnesses in Aleppo described scenes of carnage in rebel areas, with bodies lying amid the rubble of city streets, as desperate residents sat on pavements with nowhere to shelter.
Syria’s army has taken more than 90% of the territory once held by rebels in east Aleppo, after launching an all-out offensive last month to seize control of the entire city.
Aleppo, a cultural and economic hub in northern Syria second only to Damascus in importance, had been split between a rebel-controlled east and government-held west since 2012.
With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald
Read: ‘Too little, too late’ – Syrian army halts shelling of Aleppo to allow trapped civilians to leave