Aleppo Evacuation Is On, Despite Reports of Sniper Fire

Syria's Assad about to reclaim city in major victory
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 15, 2016 6:18 AM CST
This frame grab from video, shows Syrian soldiers walking among damaged buildings near the ancient Umayyad Mosque in the Old City of Aleppo, Syria.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Rescuers are trying again to evacuate the last civilians trapped by fighting in eastern Aleppo, and reports surfaced of deadly sniper fire even before the buses left. But this time, it appears the evacuation is proceeding, unlike the aborted effort on Wednesday. Under a new deal brokered by Russia and Turkey, civilians and anti-government rebels in the last sliver of eastern Aleppo that was still under rebel control were to board ambulances and buses for the trip out. But as people were beginning to do so, government snipers opened fire, killing one and injuring about six more, a rescue service spokesman tells Reuters.

So far, however, the operation has not been called off, and the vehicles have reportedly begun their journey. Russia has promised to use drones to monitor the convoy for safety. The evacuation will mark a huge win for Syria's Bashar al-Assad in the nearly 6-year-old civil war, allowing him to reclaim the city of Aleppo. Wednesday's deal fell through for reasons that illustrate the tangled interests at stake in the fighting: While the deal was arranged by Turkey and Russia, Iran and the Syrian government balked because they were not consulted, reports the New York Times. (Read more Aleppo stories.)

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