ALEPPO LATEST VIDEOS: Almost 1,000 taken out of Aleppo in first evacuation operation
A mission to evacuate thousands of civilians and militants from the eastern parts of Aleppo has begun as foreign-backed terrorists are facing a resounding defeat on the ground in the strategic northwestern Syrian city.
Reports said a convoy of some two dozen vehicles came out of Aleppo’s al-Amiriyah district and crossed into the government-held Ramussa en route to the remaining militant-held territory in Aleppo Province’s west.
A Syrian official source said almost 1,000 people had left eastern Aleppo in the first convoy, comprising women, children and the wounded.
The source noted that a second convoy of 15 buses will leave the city later in the day, without giving a precise timing.
He said 951 people, including 200 militants and 108 wounded made up the convoy.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that 21 buses and 19 ambulances carrying civilians and wounded have left eastern Aleppo.
Russia’s Defense ministry also announced that the first bus convoy meant to evacuate terrorists was leaving Aleppo’s east.
The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that efforts had started to pull out some 200 wounded people as part of a ceasefire deal.
Newly-released drone footage showed buses and ambulances moving into the besieged areas of the city.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that the evacuation of 5,000 militants and their family members from eastern Aleppo has begun, the TASS news agency reported.
An unnamed Russian military official said the evacuations would be carried out through a 21-kilometer-long humanitarian corridor.
Separately, the UN Syria humanitarian advisor said most of the evacuees will go to Idlib Province and others may opt to go to neighboring Turkey.
Jan Egeland further estimated that the number of those who have recently fled eastern Aleppo stands at 50,000.
“Thousands of people are in need of evacuation, but the first and most urgent thing is wounded, sick and children, including orphans,” he added.
Elsewhere, the governor of Syria’s Hama Province told the official SANA news agency that vehicles were en route to Fua’a and Kafraya, two government-held villages under militant siege in Idlib Province, to evacuate sick and wounded residents.
“Twenty-nine buses and ambulances, and medical teams, have been sent to … Fua’a and Kafraya … to evacuate humanitarian cases and a number of families,” Mohamed al-Hazouri said.
The mission in the two villages also come as part of the ceasefire deal to evacuate eastern Aleppo.
Moreover, an unnamed Syrian source said that buses and ambulances were moving from the Qalaat al-Madiq area of Hama Province towards the two villages, adding that “1,200 injured and sick people and their families will be evacuated.”
The Syrian so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the evacuees from the besieged villages were expected to be taken to government-held Latakia Province.
Militant rockets hit govt.-controlled part of Aleppo
Meanwhile, Syrian state-run Ikhbariya television reported that terrorists had shelled a government-controlled part of Aleppo with rocket fire.
The Syrian army soldiers and their allies have recently dealt heavy blows to militants in Aleppo, with Syrian state TV saying that the Damascus forces are now in control of 99 percent of the strategic city.
The Syrian troops are supported by a Russia aerial campaign against terrorists.
Russia’s RIA news agency quoted the Defense Ministry as saying that more than 2,000 militants from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have been killed in Syria in the past year.
Moscow vows peaceful evacuations
Meanwhile, the UN Syria humanitarian advisor said Thursday that Moscow has pledged a pause in anti-terror military operations in Idlib as those militants evacuated from Aleppo are on the way to a militant-held zone of the province.
“Russians and others assure us that there will be a pause in the fighting… when we assist the evacuation,” Egeland said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is on an official visit to Japan, has also promised cooperation with other countries on the Syria issue, AFP quoted a Japanese senior government as saying.
Hezbollah lauds Aleppo victory
The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement hailed the Syrian army’s victory over terrorists in Aleppo.
Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah described Aleppo’s recapture as a “critical accomplishment,” saying the “achievement exposed the size of the international conspiracy to divide Syria at the expense of the Syrian people.”