Middle East

Aleppo evacuation: UN backs sending monitors

A Syrian child, who was among the people evacuated from Kafarya and Fuah villages of Idlib province, flashes the victory sign upon arriving at a temporary housing center in Jebrin, Aleppo countryside Image copyright EPA
Image caption Children were among those evacuated from the government-controlled villages of Kefraya and Foah

The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution calling for UN officials and others to monitor the mass evacuations from rebel-held east Aleppo and the safety of civilians still there.

Some 13,000 people have left the area since Thursday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.

The evacuation deal also includes government-held parts of Idlib province besieged by rebels.

The UN envoy for Syria says there are plans for peace talks on 8 February.

Some 7,000 people are still trapped in Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory. Conditions there are grim, with no access to food and shelter and minimal medical facilities.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Red Cross says the evacuation is going well, but there are still plenty more people to get out of Aleppo

Among those evacuated on Monday were 47 children trapped in an orphanage, children's charity Unicef said in a statement. Some were in a critical condition because of injuries or dehydration, the organisation added.

The evacuees also included seven-year-old Bana Alabed, whose home in eastern Aleppo was bombed and whose appeals for peace on Twitter were heard worldwide.

In a video she expressed relief at escaping the "endless bombardment in Aleppo".

After leaving Aleppo city, the evacuees will be moved to parts of Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

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Media captionEvacuees from rebel-held eastern Aleppo have been receiving aid in a neighbourhood in the west of the city

The operation restarted late on Sunday. It had stalled after armed men set fire to buses that were about to transport the sick and injured from the mainly Shia, government-held villages of Foah and Kefraya in Idlib province.

The Syrian Observatory said that 500 of the 4,000 villagers left the areas on Monday.

A rebel representative said hundreds of people would also be evacuated from Zabadani and Madaya, two army-besieged rebel towns near the border with Lebanon, as part of the deal.

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Media captionSpeaking through a translator, Bana Alabed thanked "those who have been asking about our news"

At the UN Security Council, the 15 members managed to overcome disagreements between Western nations and Russia and unanimously approved the resolution.

It requested the "UN and other relevant institutions to carry out adequate, neutral monitoring" of the mass evacuations from Aleppo.

Syria's envoy Bashar Jaafari spoke out against council members who he said had hidden agendas and intended "to legitimise foreign interference, the changing of legitimate governments by force, or even using military force".

For monitors to be deployed in Aleppo, they need permission from the Syrian government.

Meanwhile, a gunman killed the Russian ambassador to Turkey in Ankara. The attacker, identified as a police officer, shouted "Don't forget Aleppo".

Leaders of both countries, who brokered the deal for the evacuations, said the attack was a "provocation" aimed at hurting bilateral ties, and vowed to investigate the killing. It was not clear if the gunman acted alone or had links to any group.