Thousands more flee east Aleppo as evacuations resume
The evacuation of civilians from the besieged city of Aleppo resumed late Sunday night and continued into Monday morning. Among the thousands who were rescued was Bana Alabed, the seven-year-old Syrian girl who became famous around the world for her tweets begging the international community to help bring an end to the horror of life in the city.
— هادي العبدالله Hadi (@HadiAlabdallah) December 19, 2016
The evacuations, which started last week, followed a deal brokered by Russia and Turkey. Attempts to get people out stalled over the weekend, with a convoy of buses being hijacked and burned according to the the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Despite this, the evacuations began again on Sunday and according to Turkey’s foreign ministry, 4,500 people have left eastern Aleppo since midnight Sunday. This brings the total evacuated from the city so far to 12,000.
Including 4500 people in East #Aleppo since midnight, 12000 civilians in total were evacuated so far to the area under control of opposition
— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) December 19, 2016
Unicef said that among those evacuated on Monday were 47 children who had been trapped in an orphanage – some of whom are in a critical condition due to injuries and dehydration. “The evacuation of these orphans, along with thousands of other children from east Aleppo in the past days is a glimmer of hope amid a grim reality for the children of Syria,” Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director said in a statement.
The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) posted a picture of Bana Alabed on Monday with one of its workers, adding that she had been “rescued from Aleppo with her family.” Alabed had attracted hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers for her comments about life inside the besieged city, reaching out to public figures as diverse as Michelle Obama, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and JK Rowling.
The evacuation stalled over the weekend when pro-government forces demanded that Shiite residents of the mainly Shia villages of Foah and Kefraya in Idlib province were evacuated in a reciprocal operation. On Sunday planned evacuations were briefly stopped when “armed terrorists” launched the attack on five buses – burning and destroying them – as they were on their way to collect evacuees.
Evacuations from Foah and Kefraya restarted on Monday morning. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said 10 buses had left the villages carrying 500 of the 4,000 villagers.
Double decker buses now being used for evacuations from east Aleppo. Trying to finish process before UN vote on international observers? https://t.co/MyKwU2rN0k
— Louisa Loveluck (@leloveluck) December 19, 2016
On Monday the United Nations Security Council in New York will vote on a new resolution to allow UN monitors to enter eastern Aleppo and oversee the continuing evacuation. France had previously warned that Syrian forces could perpetrate “mass atrocities” unless monitors were in place.
Russia, which has uniformly vetoed all resolutions proposed by the Security Council on Aleppo, is apparently ready to agree to pass this latest resolution after it was altered to address some of its concerns.
Cover: ASSOCIATED PRESS