This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 13 °C Friday 24 May, 2019
Advertisement

Civilians to be evacuated from Aleppo after reports of civilians being 'killed on the spot'

A rebel official said an evacuation deal, sponsored by Russia and Turkey, was set to take effect within hours.

AN AGREEMENT FOR the imminent evacuation of civilians and opposition fighters from east Aleppo in Syria has been reached, a rebel official has said.

“An agreement has been reached for the evacuation of the residents of Aleppo, civilians and fighters with their light weapons, from the besieged districts of east Aleppo,” said Yasser al-Youssef from the political office of the key Nurredin al-Zinki group.

He said the deal was “sponsored by Russia and Turkey” and would be implemented “within hours”.

The deal comes one month into a Syrian army operation to recapture all of east Aleppo, which rebels had held since 2012.

The rebels are now confined to just a small pocket of territory in the south of their former bastion, and tens of thousands of civilians have already fled former opposition territory during the offensive.

Youssef added:

The first stage will be the evacuation of civilians and wounded, within hours, and afterwards fighters will leave with their light weapons.

The deal stipulates those leaving will be allowed to choose whether to go to rebel-held territory in west Aleppo province or to neighbouring Idlib province.

A source in the powerful Ahrar al-Sham rebel group also confirmed the deal, saying civilians and then fighters would be evacuated on buses to either western Aleppo province or Idlib.

Idlib province, in northwest Syria, is almost completely controlled by a powerful rebel alliance known as the Army of Conquest.

Observers 

The United States this evening called for international observers to be sent to Aleppo to oversee the evacuation of civilians, following reports earlier that Syrian forces had executed people during house-to-house searches.

US Ambassador Samantha Power told an emergency Security Council meeting that the observers would “oversee the safe evacuation of the people who wish to leave but who, justifiably fear that if they try, they will be shot in the street or carted off to one of Assad’s gulags”.

Syria Aleppo Timeline A Syrian army soldier places a Syrian national flag during a battle with rebel fighters at the Ramouseh front line, east of Aleppo, last week. Source: Hassan Ammar

The UN earlier said that it had received credible reports of pro-government Syrian forces executing dozens of civilians including women and children as the battle for Aleppo nears its end.

UN spokesperson Rupert Coville said forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad had in some cases entered homes and killed those inside, and in others “caught and killed on the spot” fleeing civilians.

The UN human rights office said at least 82 civilians, including 11 women and 13 children, had been killed in recent days.

Colville told reporters in Geneva the killings had taken place in four neighbourhoods of east Aleppo “most likely” in the last 48 hours.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have said the battle for the city is in its “final phase” after they seized more than 90% of the eastern districts which had been held by the rebels since 2012.

Final moments

Many still within the confines of the city have told of how they are fearful for their life.

A seven-year-old girl who’s been tweeting from the war-torn Aleppo has garnered international attention in recent weeks.

Her mother appeared to tweet out a series of final messages during the night, before a later update today.

A correspondent on site in Aleppo recorded this message and uploaded it, saying that this could be “his last message” from the city.

Another shared this video of a man desperately looking to flee the city.

An organisation of search and rescue workers volunteering in the city tweeted several updates yesterday evening. According to the White Helmets, the casualties cannot be counted and the bombing has been relentless.

Videos are being shared widely online, purporting to show the scenes of destruction from the crumbling city.

In an unverified video seen by TheJournal.ie, people can be seen bleeding and injured among the rubble.

Further screaming and shelling can be heard in the background while fires burn on the ruined street and surrounding buildings.

Ibrahim Abu al-Leith, a spokesman for the White Helmets rescue service, said regime forces were only 200 metres from his position in a rebel-held neighbourhood.

“Our fate is sealed. Why would we hide, it won’t do us any good. We will either die or be captured,” he told AFP.

Other witnesses described scenes of carnage in rebel areas, with bodies lying amid the rubble of city streets, as desperate residents sat on pavements with no shelter to find.

“There are dozens of bodies in the streets because of the intense bombardment by regime forces,” Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP.

Last chance

The east of the city had been under army siege almost continuously since July.

On 15 November, the army launched a blistering offensive to retake it with the support of Iran-backed militias.

- © AFP, 2016 with additional reporting from Sean Murray and Daragh Brophy.

Read: ‘Too little, too late’ – Syrian army halts shelling of Aleppo to allow trapped civilians to leave

Read: Aleppo’s Old City has fallen to Assad’s forces

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (134)