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Aleppo endgame nears as evacuation resumes


12-22-2016 12:57 BJT

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government forces have taken control of Aleppo. The last of the rebels are set to be brought out of the city, and only one small position in the western outskirts remains under militant control.

The United Nations and rebel groups say evacuations are yet to be completed. The UN has sent 20 more staff to east Aleppo to monitor the evacuation.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says about 30,000 people have been evacuated from Aleppo so far. This is part of a deal between Russia and Turkey, after Syrian government forces took back over 99 percent of eastern Aleppo.

On Wednesday, militants continued to retreat from the west of the city.

Aleppo received the first snow of winter on Wednesday.

At seven in the morning, vehicles from the Syrian Red Crescent and other organizations were waiting in the southwest of the city for militants to board.

The withdrawal process has been hard and slow, as the deal between the government and the opposition dictates that pro-government supporters must simultaneously withdraw from rebel bases in al-Fouaa and Kefraya in the province of Idlib.

Syrian state media say the withdrawal of the militants from Aleppo is at its final stage.

Wednesday saw a total of 20 buses full of militants and their families departing for Idlib.

In turn, four buses and two ambulances arrived in Aleppo from Idlib.

The withdrawal plan was suspended several times, as militants burned down buses and attacked at least one bus driver.

A Syrian military official criticized rebel fighters for breaking the agreement and called upon both sides to honor the deal.

"There was an agreement just to be fulfilled from the other part," said Fawaz Mostafa, Syrian Army Political and Military Academy.

"And we fulfilled the part which concerns us, but they broke it, and that's why we have to stop till they finish what they agreed with them. They broke this agreement and we will not allow that. We recommend that all the agreement should be fulfilled 100 percent."

Government forces say the withdrawal process is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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