Thousands of increasingly desperate Syrian civilians are still waiting to get out of Aleppo. Civilians say that only a few buses are turning up at a time and that they are becoming increasingly fearful that they won’t manage to get out of the opposition-held enclave. Meanwhile, the Red Cross has urged both sides to come to an agreement so thousands of lives can be saved.
American president Barack Obama has described the situation in Aleppo as one of “horror,” but so far, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allied Russia and Iran have remained quiet about whether anything further will be done to get civilians and rebels out.
Desperate families and unaccompanied children are living in bombed out apartment blocks in freezing temperatures because they don’t want to stray too far from the Al-Amiriyah district where some evacuations have taken place. Thousands of people waiting outside for nine hours before returning the following day, only to be told that no more buses were coming.
One father said that there was no food or drinking water as civilians waited to get out, and that his four children were ill because it was so cold. The Red Cross has now issued an appeal for the thousands of people, many of whom are women, children, sick and injured, and now have uncertainty about whether they will able to leave or not.
The government has blamed rebel forces for stopping the evacuation process, claiming that they were trying to smuggle out weapons and hostages on the buses. However, the opposition says the government is to blame. The UN has estimated that there are still 40,000 civilians in Aleppo and around 5,000 rebel fighters in the encalve which is still under fire. So far, some 8,5000 people, including 3,000 rebel forces have left to territory still held by opposition forces.