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Aleppo evacuation suspended

Evacuated civilians who fled from East Aleppo, which had been under siege by Assad regime forces, arrive at Sarmada town of Idlib, Syria on 15 December 2016 [Bilal Baioush/Anadolu Agency]
Evacuated civilians who fled from East Aleppo, which had been under siege by Assad regime forces, arrive at Sarmada town of Idlib, Syria on 15 December 2016 [Bilal Baioush/Anadolu Agency]

The evacuation of Aleppo has been suspended as blasts were heard at departure points, the Guardian newspaper has reported.

Citing a Syrian state run TV station, the paper stated that opposition forces had breached agreement with Syrian government by taking prisoners with them and that evacuation of people from eastern Aleppo has been suspended after a 24-hour period in which an estimated 8,000 people left besieged districts.

A source, who claims to have knowledge of the evacuation deal, told the Guardian it was suspended over the opposition groups’ refusal to allow the evacuation of the wounded from Fua and Kefraya, two Shia villages in Idlib province that have been besieged by opposition groups for years.

In a voice note on Twitter, US journalist on the ground Bilal Abdul Kareem said people were being stopped from leaving the besieged city.

Earlier this week, Iran demanded that the villages, Foua and Kefraya, which are besieged by opposition groups, be included in the ceasefire deal under which opposition fighters and civilians are leaving Aleppo, according to UN officials and rebels.

It’s also been alleged by state TV that opposition fighters were “leaving Aleppo with hostages”.

Speaking of the suspension, a World Health Organisation official in Aleppo told Reuters that the suspension would be temporary as many civilians remained stranded in the city.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights only 8,500 people had been allowed to leave the city to opposition -held territory in the west of the province.

A separate military news outlet run by Hezbollah, which has sent its militia to support the Assad regime claimed that protesters had blocked a road being used to evacuate fighters and civilians from Aleppo today, demanding the evacuation of people from two Shia villages in Idlib province.

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