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Vehicles still leaving Aleppo after overnight evacuation - U.N. in Syria
December 22, 2016 / 7:23 AM / 8 months ago

Vehicles still leaving Aleppo after overnight evacuation - U.N. in Syria

A man with a baby rides a bus to be evacuated from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo, Syria December 18, 2016.Abdalrhman Ismail

GENEVA (Reuters) - Vehicles were still streaming out of eastern Aleppo on Thursday morning after an evacuation overnight monitored by the U.N., a United Nations official in Syria told Reuters on Thursday.

Snow, bad weather and the poor condition of some cars appeared to have slowed the operation on Wednesday in east Aleppo, where only a small number of rebels are still waiting to leave under an agreement with the Syrian government.

"The evacuation is still ongoing, monitors are still on site. About 300 private vehicles left overnight and this morning," the U.N. official said.

A rebel contact inside Aleppo said that the "evacuation operation is continuing and has not ended".

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had appeared close to taking back control of Aleppo on Wednesday, but U.N. and rebel officials denied that an operation to evacuate fighters and civilians from the city had been completed.

About 30,000 people had been evacuated from Aleppo by Wednesday in a nearly week-long operation, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has led the convoy of buses and ambulances with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

In Geneva, ICRC spokeswoman Krista Armstrong told Reuters that the evacuation "will still take quite some time, possibly most of today (Thursday)".

The civilian evacuees have been taken mainly to opposition-held western rural Aleppo and Idlib province. The last evacuees are believed to be fighters and their families.

At least 435 sick and wounded people have been medically evacuated, including dozens of children who require treatment mainly for trauma injuries, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. The most critical cases were being taken to Turkey.

Additional reporting by Sulieman Al-Khalidi in Amman; Editing by Louise Ireland

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