The first set of evacuees began leaving the eastern part of the Syrian city of Aleppo on Thursday as the rebel fighters and the pro-government forces honoured the second ceasefire agreement reached after the first one crumbled on Wednesday, AFP reported. The first convoy of ambulances and buses led by vehicles from the International Committee of the Red Cross left the Al-Amiriyah district and began moving into government-held territory in the city.
“They have crossed the front line and are on their way to rural parts of western Aleppo,” a spokesperson for the ICRC said, adding that the first convoy consisted of 13 ambulances and 20 buses. State television reports said that those leaving the city were opposition fighters, Reuters reported. The Syrian army now controls more than 90% of the eastern parts of the city.
While a ceasefire deal was announced early on Wednesday, it nearly broke down after fighting resumed in some parts of the city. However, the situation calmed down after emergency talks between the two sides. The evacuation was stalled after Iran, which backs the Assad government, reportedly imposed new conditions.
With the rebel fighters pushed out of Aleppo, the government will have control over the city that it has been fighting for more than four years. However, reports have emerged about execution-style killings by government forces as they started taking control of the city on Tuesday. The city has seen some of the most intense fighting in the four-year-long civil war between the two sides. While the United States has backed the rebel groups, the Syrian administration has received support from Iran and Russia.