December 16, 2016 / 11:23 AM / a year ago

Aleppo evacuation halted without explanation - WHO

GENEVA (Reuters) - The evacuation of wounded and civilians from eastern enclaves of Aleppo was aborted on Friday and aid agencies and vehicles were told to leave the area without explanation, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

Evacuees from rebel-held eastern Aleppo ride on pick-up trucks along the government-held area of al-Ramousah bridge, Syria December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Elizabeth Hoff, WHO representative in Syria, speaking from west Aleppo, told a news briefing in Geneva: “I assume the message (to abort the operation) came from the Russians who are monitoring the area”. Her team of nine staff in east Aleppo had no contact with Syrian authorities at the Ramouseh transit site.

By 7 a.m. local time, 194 evacuated patients had arrived in eight “overwhelmed” hospitals in opposition-held rural parts of western Aleppo, in Idlib and nearby Turkey, according to the latest WHO figures. War-wounded patients have brain and eye damage, while others are being treated for chronic diseases including diabetes, Hoff said.

(This story has been refiled to correct third paragraph to say patients evacuated to opposition-held rural western Aleppo, not government-held part of the city.)

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Tom Miles

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