Thousands evacuated from eastern Aleppo ahead of UN vote

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This image released on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016 by Aleppo 24, shows residents gathered near green government buses for evacuation from eastern Aleppo, Syria. The evacuation of eastern Aleppo stalled Friday after an eruption of gunfire, as the Syrian government and rebels threw accusations at each other, raising fears that a peaceful surrender of the opposition enclave could fall apart with thousands of people believed to be still inside. (Aleppo 24 via AP)

ALEPPO, Dec 19 (Web Desk): A total of about 3,500 militants and their families have been evacuated from the eastern part of the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo.

Since the early hours of Monday, as many as 65 buses have transferred the evacuees from Aleppo’s eastern side to militant-held territory in Khan Tuman, a village southwest of Aleppo, and Idlib.

Meanwhile, the so-called UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday that an estimated 500 people had been taken out of the two besieged Shia villages of al-Fou’a and Kefraya in the neighboring Idlib Province.

According to Syrian media, the evacuation of wounded and civilians trapped in the two villages was a condition for the evacuation of militants in eastern Aleppo.

Recently, Russia and Turkey reached a deal enabling the evacuation of thousands of trapped civilians and militants from Aleppo.

The process was, however, halted after the militants violated the ceasefire deal and blocked the transfer of civilians from al-Fou’a and Kefraya.

On Saturday, it was reported that the government and the militants were working on a new deal to resume evacuations from the villages as well as two towns near the Lebanese border.

The evacuations, which were initially set to start earlier on Sunday, were postponed after the militants attacked and burned around 20 of the buses that had arrived to transport people out of the two villages.

Takfiri militants seized Aleppo back in 2012. The city was recently restored to government control on the back of a month-long military operation. The Syrian government is now in control of all major cities.

Russia, France formulate ‘good’ Aleppo proposal  

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to vote on a draft resolution on Aleppo evacuations at 9:00 local time (1400 GMT) in New York.

Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Sunday that Moscow has composed a “good” draft resolution together with Paris on a UN monitoring process to ensure safe evacuations out of Aleppo.

The UNSC was previously scheduled to vote on a French-drafted proposal on Sunday. Russia had, however, taken exception to the draft, saying the monitors were far from prepared to take on the mission.

The Russian mission had, accordingly, threatened to veto the resolution, which it condemned as nothing but “a disaster” and said it would put forward its own proposal. France’s UN envoy Francois Delattre had, however, ruled out the possibility of any compromise on the contents of the draft with the Russian mission.

Commenting on the likely composition of the agreed text, a source from one of the delegations at the UNSC told journalists that the Council had been discussing the possibility of merging the Russian and French texts, Russia’s Sputnik news agency reported.

The amended draft resolution would prevent “mass atrocities” in areas still besieged by militants in Aleppo, Delattre said.

The liberation of Aleppo has not sat easily with the devoted opponents of the Syrian government, who have been open-handedly providing militants with financial and political support over the past five years to secure the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. The militants have been receiving patronage from the United States, Turkey, and certain Persian Gulf states.

Iran, Russia, Turkey defense chiefs to meet

Separately, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan is to hold talks with his Russian and Turkish counterparts Sergei Shoigu and Fikri Isik respectively in Moscow on Tuesday to address the region’s latest developments and the situation on the ground in Syria, especially Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said at his weekly press conference on Monday that the foreign ministers of the three countries would also meet in Moscow separately on Tuesday.

Russia has been carrying out airstrikes on positions of Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria since late September 2015, while Iran has been providing military advisory assistance to the Arab country.

Syria rages at infanticide

Also on Sunday, the Syrian government sent separate messages to the UNSC and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, condemning the terrorists’ using of children for terror operations.

The inhumane actions, Damascus said, indicated that the countries supporting the militants, whom they call “moderates,” have no concern about the life of the young ones.

The United States, France, the UK, and their allies should immediately stop the support, it added.

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