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Evacuation of east Aleppo complete as fears grow for Idlib

An operation to evacuate thousands of people from eastern Aleppo as well as two Shi'ite villages in Syria's Idlib province is now complete.

The evacuation has handed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad his biggest victory of the nearly six-year civil war.

Krista Armstrong, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said: "All civilians who wished to be evacuated have been, as well as wounded and fighters."

However concerns are growing Idlib - now home to thousands of rebels - could fall in the same way as Aleppo.

Steffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, said: "Idlib could be the next Aleppo. We have to look forward.

"We have to make sure the UN has access but also the means, the capacity, the funding, for the winter."

Evacuees leave east Aleppo as 'Government takes control'

Evacuees board a bus to al-Rashideen. Credit: Reuters

Busses have carried the last group of rebels out of eastern Aleppo to the insurgent-held area of al-Rashideen.

The countryside town is southwest of the city and has been used to accommodate some of the estimated 34,000 people - civilians and fighters - from the besieged city over the past week.

Pro-government forces had insisted the rebel evacuation must be included in the deal to remove their forces from Shi'te villages al-Foua and Kefraya.

Despite the capture of Aleppo and progress against insurgents near Damascus, fighting in Syria is far from over with large areas remaining in rebel control in the northwest and far south.

So-called Islamic State also controls vast swathes of territory in the deserts and eastern Syria.


Syrian army: 'Aleppo now under government control'

Aleppo's historic citadel was reclaimed by pro-Assad forces earlier this month. Credit: Reuters

The Syrian army has said the last group of rebel fighters left in the besieged city have been evacuated.

In a statement, they said they had reclaimed Aleppo entirely and brought "security and safety" back to the city.

The last group of rebels and their families who were left in the city were evacuated on Thursday under a deal that gives the army and its allies full control of Aleppo after four years of fighting.

Around 34,000 evacuated from Aleppo, Red Cross says

A man with a baby is evacuated from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo Credit: Reuters

Around 34,000 people have been evacuated from eastern Aleppo in a week-long rescue operation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

Over 4,000 rebel fighters were evacuated between Wednesday and Thursday to rebel-held western rural Aleppo "in one of the last stages of the evacuation," a spokeswoman said.

"The evacuation will continue for the entire day and night and most probably tomorrow (Friday). Thousands are still expected to be evacuated," she added.

All hospital patients evacuated from east Aleppo

All hospital patients in eastern Aleppo has been evacuated, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

In a tweet, the ICRC wrote: "The last hospital in Eastern #Aleppo is now empty. All patients have been evacuated, along with other people in need of urgent medical care."

Thousands of Syrian civilians were left waiting in falling snow after the evacuation from the rebel-held area of Aleppo stalled on Tuesday.

The evacuation began again on Wednesday and a local news service, run by the Lebanese group Hezbollah, claimed the operation would be completed by the end of the day.

Aleppo: Last evacuation buses begin moving again

The last buses have started moving again in Aleppo. Credit: Reuters

The last buses meant to evacuate rebels and civilians from Aleppo have started moving again, having been delayed by 24 hours, a UN official has said.

Earlier on Wednesday the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 60 buses which would carry the remaining 3,000 evacuees had been halted.

The Observatory also said 21 buses were waiting to evacuate the sick and wounded from the rebel-besieged Shiite villages of Foua and Kfarya as part of the cease-fire deal reached last week.

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