Aleppo evacuation stalls as tense ceasefire breaks down

Evacuations out of the rebel-held enclave of Aleppo have stalled after a fragile ceasefire broke down.

Thousands of people were evacuated on Thursday from the last rebel-held district in eastern Aleppo, marking a significant victory for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

ITV News is in Aleppo and saw the successful evacuation turn into a scramble for safety.

Red crescent vehicles and government busses were suddenly forced to abandon plans to rescue the remaining 50,000 people - who are still believed to be in the area - after reports of shooting at a crossing point into the enclave.

Correspondent Dan Rivers said: "We're hearing the sound of mortars.

"There's a lot of chaos here, but what's clear is there has been a breakdown of this ceasefire"

The suspension demonstrated the fragility of the ceasfire, in which civilians and fighters were to be taken to opposition-held territory nearby.

The breakdown appeared to be linked to a separate evacuation to remove thousands of people from two government-held Shiite villages besieged by the rebels.

Eastern Aleppo has been left badly damaged after four years of conflict. Credit: ITV News

Dan Rivers said: "It was always a risk this was going to happen. It's such a fragile, precarious process that was in place.

"It's not just civilians being evacuated from east Aleppo, a reverse is happening in rebel-held territory a few miles to the west where pro-Assad civilians are also being taken out in a sort-of swap.

"Because of the complexity of that - the enormous amount of hate on both sides - there was always a chance that things would break down as we saw they did today."

ITV News witnessed a pick-up truck ferrying dozens of people across the border, including women and children, which then drove back into the enclave.

Trucks were then seen dumping rubble to seal the escape route.

Dan Rivers added: "We understand from some reports, those 47 orphans who we thought had got out, were on that last convoy and are now back inside east Aleppo.