Rebels’ evacuation from Aleppo to continue during night: state TV

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Damascus, Dec 16 (IANS) The evacuation of the rebels from the northern city of Aleppo will continue through the night, state TV said on Thursday.

The process will be ongoing during the night until “ending the rebel presence inside Aleppo”, the TV said, as a first batch of rebels evacuating the city has reached their destination in the town of Rashidien, southwest of Aleppo, Xinhua news agency reported.

Buses carrying rebels started to leave eastern Aleppo on Thursday afternoon, as part of a deal to evacuate all the rebels from Aleppo city.

Green-coloured government buses started leaving the few remaining rebel-held areas in southeastern Aleppo, as part of a deal concluded recently between Turkey and Russia for the evacuation of rebels and their families out of the last remaining strongholds in eastern Aleppo, according to the report.

The move was supervised solely by the International Committee of the Red Cross, without presence of the United Nations staff, said the TV.

The buses were leaving through the Ramouseh road, the main government road into Aleppo, since the international road had long been closed due to rebel control on some parts of it.

Ambulances carrying the ill and wounded were also seen leaving alongside the buses.

The Russians and Syrians claimed to take the responsibility of securing the rebel convoys out of Aleppo.

Buses were heading to rebel-held areas in the southwestern countryside of Aleppo.

About 15,000 people, including 4,000 rebels, will evacuate on Thursday, as part of the Russian-Turkish deal.

According to the deal, the rebels will have to surrender their weapons, except personal ones.

The TV said the Syrian Army has seized weapon stashes in eastern Aleppo, including two million mortar shells, 2,000 Grad missiles and other heavy arms.

The deal also stipulates that both parties should observe a truce during the evacuation.

In exchange for the evacuation in eastern Aleppo, rebels in the northwestern province of Idlib will allow civilians to leave the besieged Shiite towns of Kafraya and Foa.

Buses carrying people from the two towns have already started leaving Idlib in tandem with the departure of rebels from Aleppo.

With the evacuation, the Syrian Army will take over the whole Aleppo city, as it already controls 99 per cent of the rebel-held areas in the eastern part of the city.

–IANS

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