ITV News in Aleppo: Besieged civilians make their final exit

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers in Aleppo

Women, children and the injured were among those waiting to board buses and evacuate from Aleppo in a retreat that marked the ignominious defeat for rebel forces but also the end of a bloody four-year battle.

There was a tension today as besieged residents waited to see whether they would finally be given passage out after a ceasefire deal broke down yesterday.

Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad could not resist staging one last attack on the enclave this morning.

But concern turned to relief as the first buses left, carrying hundreds of people to the countryside.

Footage taken this morning by an ITV News crew in Aleppo showed that there were some fighters among those waiting to be evacuated.

However, the majority appeared to be civilians.

One boy leaving said: "It's true we are leaving Aleppo but once we grow up we are going to come back and liberate and all my brothers."

Smoke rising from the shattered city suggested that rebel forces were burning items to ensure there was nothing left behind for the regime to make use of when they overrun the territory.

However it was hard to image what there could be left to destroy.

Pro-Assad citizens on the government side of the border celebrated as they saw the buses leave with evacuees.

"It's a day of great joy," said one woman. "We could not believe this day would come. I congratulate all of Syria."

President Assad himself claimed a "historic victory" in the city, which has been a hard-fought prize for his forces.

The mood among many watchers of the conflict was relief - but also anger that a deal to end the suffering in Aleppo had taken so long.