Fierce fighting halts Aleppo evacuation

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Buses were brought in but have not been used

A deal to evacuate rebel fighters and civilians from eastern Aleppo appears to have stalled, with heavy shelling reported in the Syrian city.

A ceasefire was declared in Aleppo on Tuesday and buses brought in to ferry people out of the devastated enclave.

But fighting resumed on Wednesday. More than 40 people had been hurt in eastern Aleppo, a local rescue official said.

The breakdown of the deal, brokered by Russia and Turkey, is being attributed to demands from the Syrian government.

It is said to be seeking the evacuation of its own injured fighters and civilians from nearby towns encircled by opposition forces.

Eastern Aleppo has been held by the rebels since 2012. But the rebels have been squeezed into ever smaller areas of the city in recent months by a major government offensive, backed by Russian air power.

Late on Tuesday, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told an emergency session of the UN Security Council that “military actions in eastern Aleppo are over”.

Under the evacuation deal, civilians and rebels from eastern Aleppo were to be evacuated to rebel-held areas in northern Syria.

Evacuations had been due to start at 05:00 (03:00 GMT), but did not go ahead. Fresh shelling was reported several hours later.

“The clashes are violent and bombardment is very heavy… it seems as though everything (the ceasefire) is finished,” Rami Abdulrahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, said.

Source: BBC News