Syria: Evacuation of rebel-held east Aleppo

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An operation to evacuate civilians and rebel fighters from besieged east Aleppo is under way.

As many as 50,00 people, including 4,000 rebel fighters are believed to remain in the eastern part of the city that has been under rebel control since the early days of the Syrian civil war.

This is the second attempt at an evacuation of the area after an earlier ceasefire collapsed on Wednesday. A new ceasefire came into effect at 03:00 GMT on Thursday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the operation is now “well under way”, with their teams working “safely” on the ground, with both sides honouring the ceasefire agreement.

The humanitarian corridor out of east Aleppo is 21km long, and will carry civilians and fighters through 15km of territory still under rebel control and 6km of government-held territory. Those evacuated will be transported to neighbouring Idlib province, which is under rebel control.

Twenty passenger buses and 10 ambulances have been made available for the operation, according to the Russian military.

The evacuation comes after government forces, with the support of the Russian military, swept through much of the rebel-held areas earlier this month, leaving rebel areas surrounded and cut off from supply routes.

Local civilians have accused the government troops of massacres and widespread rape as they seized control of rebel-held areas of east Aleppo in recent days, and have expressed anger at the international community’s lack of action to help civilians trapped in the city.

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