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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Eastern Aleppo evacuation to end in few hours: Red Cross

Iran Press TV

Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:57AM

UN officials say the evacuation of the remaining civilians and militants from eastern Aleppo is about to be completed in the next few hours.

The few thousand remaining people were being evacuated by 40 buses and hundreds of private cars on Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

Another four buses will leave the Shia-populated villages of al-Fua'a and Kefraya which are under the siege of foreign-backed militants in the northwestern Idlib province.

The ICRC said more than 4,000 militants were evacuated overnight from east Aleppo to terrorist-held areas under an agreement overseen also by Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

This brought to around 34,000 the total number of people evacuated from the district in a week-long operation, hampered by heavy snow and wind as well as terrorist sabotage, the ICRC said.

"The evacuation will continue for the entire day and night and most probably tomorrow (Friday). Thousands are still expected to be evacuated," ICRC spokeswoman Krista Armstrong said.

The evacuations are being carried out amid harsh weather conditions, capping a major army battle to liberate Aleppo and bring Syria's second largest city under the full control of the government.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Thursday the regaining of full control of Aleppo is a victory for his Russian and Iranian allies as much as his own country.

Assad told an Iranian delegation that the battlefield victories are a "basic step on the road to ending terrorism in the whole of Syrian territory and creating the right circumstances for a solution to end the war."

In Moscow, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said airstrikes in Syria have killed 35,000 terrorists, with President Vladimir Putin also saying "We are now stronger than any potential aggressor."

The Aleppo evacuation is part of a fragile ceasefire deal, brokered by Turkey and Russia last week, which also allows residents of Fua'a and Kefraya to leave the villages.

However, a dispute between Syria's warring sides delayed the final round of evacuations for some 24 hours after about 20,000 people were bused out of Aleppo.

Syrian state media reported on Tuesday that "differences among terrorist groups" were holding up the evacuations from Aleppo as well as al-Fua'a and Kefarya.

The evacuations resumed after foreign minister of Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed in Moscow to push for peace talks in Syria.

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