Aleppo refugees reach safety after being held at government checkpoint

The Guardian reports: Hundreds of people from east Aleppo who spent hours in limbo crammed on to buses at a Syrian government checkpoint have reached safety, becoming the latest group to be evacuated from the embattled city.

Two days after the deal to evacuate tens of thousands of civilians in the shrinking and besieged rebel enclave appeared on the verge of unravelling, it seems to be back on track. But many remain languishing in the winter cold and hundreds are still being held at the Syrian government checkpoint.

A source with knowledge of the evacuation deal said roughly 1,000 civilians in 25 buses had been evacuated overnight into the western Aleppo countryside, which is controlled by the opposition. Another 20 are still stuck at the government crossing in the district of Ramouseh, awaiting the parallel evacuation of residents in two pro-government villages besieged by rebels.

Among those who were rescued was Bana al-Abed, a seven-year-old girl whose tweets about life in east Aleppo under bombardment captured the attention of hundreds of thousands of people on social media, including prominent figures such as author JK Rowling.

Humanitarian workers in the area published images showing a smiling Bana on their shoulders, wearing a winter jacket and woollen head cover. Her tweets had drawn attention to the suffering of east Aleppo’s residents, and there were fears that she might be killed or fall into the hands of government forces. [Continue reading…]

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