Aleppo rebel evacuation back on: Syria military source



A new agreement has been reached for the evacuation of rebel fighters from the last pocket of territory they control in Aleppo, a senior Syrian military source told AFP Thursday.

"A deal has been reached for rebels to leave, and the preparations are happening now," the source said.

He made no mention of any arrangements for the thousands of desperate civilians trapped in the battered rebel enclave whose evacuation had been supposed to start on Wednesday but was blocked amid a deadly flare-up of violence.

Rebels had said a first convoy of civilians, many of them injured, would leave early Thursday, and after several hours of delay it appeared preparations were underway.

"The first batch of wounded civilians, their relatives, and some other civilian families is being prepared," said Ahmad al-Dbis, who heads a unit of doctors and other volunteers that are coordinating the evacuation of wounded people.

"The gathering point for civilians and wounded in Aleppo city is in Al-Amiriyah, and people are starting to board the buses now," Dbis said, speaking to AFP from a rebel-held area in the west of Aleppo province.

He said about 200 people were expected to be evacuated on three buses and head to a handover point in rebel-held territory.

A similar evacuation expected to take place on Wednesday morning fell apart, with artillery exchanges and resumed air strikes rocking the city until the early hours of Thursday.

Al-Farook Abu Bakr, the chief negotiator for the rebels, told AFP that the first convoy on Thursday would be only for wounded people, their carers and other civilians.

"The evacuations will be from Ramoussa" on the southern outskirts of Aleppo, the official from hardline Islamist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham said.

He said an evacuation of rebel fighters would take place after the first or second convoy.