Aleppo battle: Rebels ‘to leave’ – Russian ambassador

Thousands of civilians are trying to flee the fighting
A deal has been agreed for Syrian rebel fighters to leave enclaves they still hold in eastern Aleppo, Russia’s ambassador to the UN has said.
It is not clear whether the deal applies to civilians, thousands of whom are trapped in the besieged areas.
The rebels are on the brink of defeat in the city after a major government offensive backed by Russian air power.
Word of the deal came as the UN reported summary killings by pro-government forces.
The UN’s human rights office said it had reliable evidence that in four areas 82 civilians were killed, adding that many more may have died.
Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he understood that an arrangement for rebel fighters to leave the city could happen “within hours”, but that civilians were not included.
“The agreement is for the fighters to leave,” he said.
“The civilians, they can stay, they can go to safe places, they can take advantage of the humanitarian arrangements that are on the ground. Nobody is going to harm the civilians.”
He reiterated Moscow’s denial that abuses were taking place.
Rebel groups have confirmed the deal, but suggested that civilians will be included.
Rebel groups have confirmed the deal, but suggested that civilians will be included.
The UN Security Council is currently holding an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in Aleppo.
Russia’s military says 98% of the city is now back in government hands.
The rebels have control of just a handful of neighbourhoods, believed to include Sukkari and Mashhad.
It is hard to know exactly how many people are in the besieged areas, although one US official with knowledge of efforts to secure safe passage for people in the city told the BBC that there were around 50,000 people.
Other local sources say there could be as many as 100,000, with people arriving from areas recently taken by the government.
For much of the past four years, Aleppo has been divided roughly in two, with the government controlling the western half and rebels the east.
Syrian troops finally broke the deadlock with the help of Iranian-backed militias and Russian air strikes, reinstating a siege on the east in early September and launching an all-out assault weeks later.

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