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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Buses arrive in eastern Aleppo to resume evacuations: Syrian media

Iran Press TV

Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:20AM

Buses are entering the eastern neighborhoods in the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo to resume the evacuation of civilians and armed men from the formerly militant-held areas.

On Sunday, the buses started entering several eastern neighborhoods under the supervision of the Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross to take out the remaining militants and civilians, Syria's official SANA news agency reported.

Recently, Russia and Turkey, which supports anti-Syria militants, reached a deal enabling the evacuation of civilians and militants from Aleppo. The agreement ushered in thousands of evacuations.

The process was however halted after militants violated the ceasefire deal and blocked the transfer of civilians from the villages of Kefrya and Foua in Idlib Province.

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

Evacuation buses reach Foua and Kefraya

Lebanon's al-Manar television said later on Sunday that buses and Red Crescent vehicles had reached the entrance to the besieged Syrian villages of Foua and Kefraya, which are besieged by foreign-backed militants.

A Syrian government official, who was part of the evacuations negotiating team, said, "It was agreed to resume evacuations from east Aleppo in parallel with the evacuation of (medical) cases from Foua and Kefraya and some cases from Zabadani and Madaya."

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was working with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to try to start a new round of Syrian peace talks aimed at securing a nationwide ceasefire.

Buses attacked, burned en route to Foua and Kefraya

According to a report by Syrian TV on Sunday, several buses, which were supposed to evacuate ill and injured people from the besieged towns of Foua and Kefraya were attacked and some of them burned, Reuters reported.

However, other buses and Red Crescent vehicles reached the entrance to the villages

UN to vote on French Aleppo proposal

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council (UNSC) is set to vote on a French-drafted proposal allegedly aimed at facilitating evacuations from Aleppo and aid transfer to the northwestern Syrian city.

The session, scheduled to be held at 11:00 New York time (1600 GMT), is set to vote on the draft resolution to reintroduce a UN regime of monitoring the developments in Aleppo.

According to reports, the document expresses "alarm" at the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, adding that "tens of thousands of besieged inhabitants" there require aid and evacuation.

The Syrian government managed to recapture the city recently after weeks of lightning advances and blistering attacks against foreign-backed militants, who had been holding its eastern side since 2012.

In a Friday interview with Press TV, Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja'afari slammed the West's recent initiatives at the United Nations over the situation in Syria as the "saddest images of diplomatic and political hypocrisy."

He made the comments a few hours after reports emerged that France was drafting a UNSC resolution on Aleppo.

In late November, when the Syrian government was making great strides against the militants in Aleppo, France, which is a staunch supporter of Takfiri militants in Syria, called for a UNSC meeting to discuss mandating a "ceasefire" in Aleppo.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said at the time, "More than ever before, we need to urgently put in place means to end the hostilities and to allow humanitarian aid to get through unhindered."

However, Russia, which has been supporting Damascus against the militants with airstrikes since last September, says countries opposing Assad are using the issues of truce and aid delivery to advance their own political agendas.

On November 30, after the French call for a meeting on Syria, Russia's Foreign Ministry said the Aleppo issue was becoming highly politicized as most UN humanitarian aid was going to areas occupied by foreign-backed militants.

Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said only one percent of the UN aid supplies was being directed to the western city of Dayr al-Zawr, where at least 200,000 people, trapped by the Daesh Takfiri terror group, remain in desperate need of help.

She added that most UN aid was being sent to militant-held areas, including areas controlled by the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terror group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.

Syria gives OPCW proof of militant gas attack

In another development, Russia Today reported that the Syrian government has submitted documents to the UN chemical weapons watchdog, bearing evidence of a militant mustard gas attack against civilians near the country's northwestern city of Aleppo.

The documents were sent to a mission with the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Damascus, RT reported on Sunday.

An unexploded shell recovered by Russian sappers, which serves to substantiate the contents of the documents, is to be flown to the OPCW headquarters in The Hague next month, according to the report.

"The samples will be stored in Syria until all financial difficulties linked to their transportation to Europe will be solved," it added.

The projectile, described as a homemade 240-mm round, was found by the Russian military's chemical warfare defense unit near the village of Maarat Umm Hawsh in Aleppo Province on November 16.

"The shell is believed to have been used in a September 16 attack on the village, in which over 40 civilians were injured, and later treated in the Yusuf al-Azma military hospital in the Syrian capital Damascus for symptoms of mustard gas poisoning," RT said.

Samer Abbas, spokesman for the Syrian National Authority monitoring the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, said, "We have provided all the documents to the mission, they were vetted and accepted. The mission will come to Syria one more time to collect samples, which will be subsequently analyzed."

On November 11, the Russian unit, which goes by the official name of Russian Troops of Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defense, was quoted as saying that it had found similar unexploded projectiles containing "chlorine and white phosphorus" in the 1070 district of Aleppo's capital.

In September, the Russian military had warned that terror groups might start deploying chemical agents against the city's government-controlled areas. Later that month, at least eight people suffered breathing difficulties after Daesh terrorists fired mortar shells containing toxic gases in the towns of Harbal and Um Hosh, north of Aleppo.

Foreign supporters of the militants operating against the Syrian government have repeatedly accused Damascus of resorting to chemical weapons in Aleppo, an allegation strongly denied by Syria and Russia.

The Syrian government turned over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the United States back in 2013.

The OPCW has overseen operations to remove the government chemical arsenal from Syria under a deal, which came after hundreds of people were killed in an August 2013 chemical attack in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus.

The Damascus government agreed to turn over its arsenal of chemicals despite denying any role in the Ghouta attack.

Syria repels militant attack in Homs

Amid its ongoing struggle against Takfiri terrorists elsewhere in Syria, government foiled on Saturday a Daesh attack against an airport in the countryside of the western city of Homs.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency said the army had also targeted the group's gatherings and transportation routes around the city, killing 30 of the terrorists and injuring dozens of others.

It added that the forces had also slain seven al-Nusra terrorists and wounded some others in the suburbs of Homs.

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