16 Dec 2016

EU failed to stop 'tragedy of Aleppo'

9:44 pm on 16 December 2016

The evacuation of rebel fighters and civilians, including the wounded, from rebel-held areas of Aleppo has gathered pace.

A wounded Syrian, who was evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, is carried by a medic as she arrives in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region.

A medic carries a wounded Syrian, who was evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in Aleppo, as she arrives in the Khan al-Aassal region. Photo: AFP

At least 6000 people have left parts of the Syrian city in several convoys of buses and ambulances in the past 24 hours, under a ceasefire that would see the government retake the city.

Those evacuated included some 900 wounded, both fighters and civilians.

There was no sign, however, of evacuations from two villages besieged by rebels in neighbouring Idlib province, which were to be included in the deal.

Civilians, trying to flee from East Aleppo that had been under siege by Iran led Shiite militias and Assad Regime forces, reach the transfer center at Etarib district of Aleppo Syria on December 15, 2016

Civilians have fled East Aleppo, which was under siege by Iran led Shiite militias and Assad Regime forces. Photo: AFP Photo: AFP

Aleppo was divided between government and rebel areas of control in the nearly six-year civil war.

A lightning advance by the Syrian army and its allies, which began in mid-November, meant the insurgents lost most of their territory in a matter of weeks.

The European Council president Donald Tusk today admitted the European Union was not effective enough in trying to stop what he called the tragedy of Aleppo and other parts of Syria.

Syrians, who were evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, arrive in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the city, on December 15, 2016, the first stop on their trip.

Humanitarian groups will transport the civilians to temporary camps on the outskirts of Idlib and the wounded to field hospitals. Photo: AFP

Speaking at the end of a summit of European leaders, Mr Tusk acknowledged the EU's inability to stop the conflict, but rejected criticism that it was to blame.

He said the EU was the biggest contributor of humanitarian assistance to Syrians.

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