Evacuation underway from eastern Aleppo

Some 350 evacuees were able to leave the rebel-held pocket in eastern Aleppo in Syria late on December 18, despite an attack on buses set to deliver wounded and sick people from government-held villages, according to monitors and aid officials.

The reports came as the UN Security Council prepared to convene on December 19 to vote on a French-drafted proposal to send UN monitors to Aleppo to observe evacuations from besieged areas.

At least five buses carrying evacuees from eastern Aleppo arrived in rebel-controlled areas outside the city on December 18 after they were held up in government-controlled southern Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and activists on the ground who were in contact with the evacuees.

It was not immediately clear if convoys would be allowed to deliver more evacuees after armed assailants on December 18 attacked and burned five buses en route to evacuate ill and injured from villages near Idlib in northwestern Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights blamed the attack on Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants.

The forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the past week have pushed to establish full control over the eastern part of Aleppo, which the opposition had held since 2012, with an offensive that has been harshly criticized by the UN and Western governments.

[Reuters, AFP, AP]

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