UN to vote on Aleppo ob­servers as ‘thou­sands’ await evac­u­a­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE in Beirut

The United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was to vote on Sun­day on send­ing ob­servers to Aleppo, as trapped civil­ians and rebels waited des­per­ately for evac­u­a­tions to re­sume from an op­po­si­tion-held en­clave in the flash­point Syr­ian city.

A rebel rep­re­sen­ta­tive told AFP an agree­ment had been reached to al­low more peo­ple to leave the city which has been rav­aged by some of the worst vi­o­lence of the nearly sixyear war that has killed more than 310,000 peo­ple.

But there was no con­fir­ma­tion from the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment or its al­lies Rus­sia and Iran, which are un­der mount­ing in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to end what US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama de­nounced as the “horror” in Aleppo.

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was set to meet at 11 am on Sun­day to vote on French pro­pos­als to dis­patch mon­i­tors to over­see evac­u­a­tions and re­port on the pro­tec­tion of civil­ians, but faced re­sis­tance from Rus­sia.

French Am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre said an in­ter­na­tional pres­ence would pre­vent Aleppo from turn­ing into an­other Sre­brenica, where thou­sands of Bos­nian men and boys were mas­sa­cred in 1995 when the town fell to Bos­nian Serb forces dur­ing the Balkan wars.

“Our goal through this res­o­lu­tion is to avoid an­other Sre­brenica in this phase im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions,” De­lat­tre said.

Fam­i­lies spent the night in freez­ing tem­per­a­tures in bombed out apart­ment blocks in Aleppo’s al-Amiriyah district, the de­par­ture point for evac­u­a­tions be­fore they were halted on Fri­day, an AFP cor­re­spon­dent re­ported.

Abu Omar said that af­ter wait­ing out­side in the cold for nine hours the pre­vi­ous day, he had re­turned on Satur­day only to be told the buses were not com­ing.

“There’s no more food or drink­ing wa­ter, and the sit­u­a­tion is get­ting worse by the day,” he said, adding that his four chil­dren were sick.

Dozens of trucks with hu­man­i­tar­ian aid crossed the Turkish border on Satur­day into Syria, pil­ing sup­plies in a buf­fer zone.

Be­fore evac­u­a­tions were sus­pended around 8,500 peo­ple, in­clud­ing some 3,000 fight­ers, left for re­bel­held ter­ri­tory else­where in the north, said the Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights.

On Fri­day, a con­voy of evac­uees that had al­ready left east Aleppo when the op­er­a­tion was sus­pended was forced to turn back.

The In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross, su­per­vis­ing the evac­u­a­tions, said it was look­ing into re­ports of shoot­ing be­fore the con­voy was turned around.

ABDALRHMAN ISMAIL / REUTERS

Chil­dren play while wait­ing to be evac­u­ated with oth­ers from a rebel-held sec­tor of eastern Aleppo, Syria, on Satur­day.

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