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Russia’s UN envoy says fighting around east Aleppo is over

Update: December, 14/2016 - 11:00
A bus which will be used to evacuate civilians leaving from rebel-held areas of Aleppo is seen on Tuesday. Civilians and rebel fighters were to start evacuating from Syria’s Aleppo "within hours" under a deal reached that would end years of opposition resistance in the city. — AFP/VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

UNITED NATIONS, United StatesThe Syrian military has stopped its operations in Aleppo in order to allow opposition fighters to leave and the government to establish full control over the city, Russia’s UN envoy said on Tuesday.

An agreement was reached earlier on Tuesday with Syria President Bashar al-Assad’s government on the evacuation of the fighters along with their families and some of the injured, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters.

"In the process of that, the military operations stopped. There is no need for military operations because they are leaving," he said.

"The bottom line isif everything is okaythat means that the fighting around eastern Aleppo is over," Churkin said following a Security Council meeting on the crisis in Syria’s second city.

The Russian ambassador told the council that the fighters "are currently going through agreed corridors, going in directions they have chosen themselves voluntarily including towards Idlib," the rebel-controlled province.

"According to the latest information that we received in the last hour, military actions in eastern Aleppo are over, so there is no issue of some cessation of hostilities or some special humanitarian operation," he said.

"The Syrian government has re-established control over eastern Aleppo." But several AFP journalists in the government-held quarter of Aleppo that was supposed to be evacuated said there was no sign of movement as of 2000 GMT.

Numerous empty buses that were to be used for the evacuation were still parked near the Salaheddin section of the city.

US wants observers in Aleppo

The council held an emergency meeting at the request of France and Britain following UN reports that Syrian forces had executed dozens of civilians during house-to-house searches.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Syria and its allies Russia and Iran to "urgently allow the remaining civilians to escape the area" and provide aid to those still in the city.

Syria has refused to allow UN officials in Aleppo to verify the situation but Ban said thousands of civilians were at risk.

US Ambassador Samantha Power called for international observers to be sent to Aleppo to "oversee the safe evacuation of the people who wish to leave but who, justifiably fear that if they try, they will be shot in the street or carted off to one of Assad’s gulags."

The United Nations has raised alarm over reports that at least 82 people, including 11 women and 13 children, were killed in four neighbourhoods of Aleppo as the battle for the city neared its end.

Churkin rejected reports of atrocities, saying Russian officers had investigated the allegations on the ground.

"Not a single fact of ill-treatment, of violations of international humanitarian law against civilians of east Aleppo was discovered," he said.

The fall of Aleppo would be the worst rebel defeat since Syria’s conflict began in 2011, and leave the government in control of the country’s five major cities.

More than 300,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in March 2011, and over half the population has been displaced, with millions becoming refugees AFP

 

 

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