UN to vote on Aleppo observers as ‘thousands’ await evacuation
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.
Children play while waiting to be evacuated with others from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo, Syria, on Saturday.