ANKARA – More than 50 wounded civilians from Aleppo, many in serious condition, have been transferred to Turkey for treatment, the Turkish Red Crescent said on Friday.
The transfers came as rebel areas of Syria’s war-torn second city were being evacuated in a massive operation which began on Thursday but was suspended early on Friday, a Syrian security source said, citing violations of the deal.
The move to bus out rebels and civilians began on Thursday, with thousands leaving the battered eastern sector exactly a month after forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad began a deadly offensive to seize control of the whole city.
“Since the beginning of the evacuation, over 50 heavily injured (people) have been taken to Turkey,” Kerem Kinik, president of the Turkish Red Crescent, said at the Cilvegozu border crossing opposite Syria’s Bab al-Hawa post.
The injured are “all civilians… from the besieged Aleppo,” he said speaking in English.
UN officials said late Thursday they believed around 50,000 people, mostly civilians, were still trapped in the city’s east.
The evacuation of Aleppo is part of a ceasefire deal negotiated by Russia and Turkey.
Although the transfers were to have started on Wednesday, the plan was halted as clashes erupted, although fresh talks allowed the effort to begin in earnest a day later.
– Tent camps for evacuees –
Kinik said Turkish NGOs were preparing 10,000 tents to house the evacuees in Aleppo province near the Turkish border and were also helping out in Idlib some 60 kilometers (35 miles) south-west of the city.
“It’s not Turkish camps. We are just supporting Syrian NGOs inside Idlib, so they will manage their IDP camps,” he said, saying they expected up to 30,000 people would need sheltering there.
Turkish groups would provide shelter, infrastructure, and sanitary and hygiene systems as well as regular humanitarian assistance, he said.
Bulent Yildirim, head of the Turkish Islamic charity IHH, said only a tiny number of people had been evacuated so far, saying there were not enough buses to ferry people out of Aleppo.
“I believe the evacuation process will take 20 to 25 days,” he told reporters at the crossing. “We will stand vigil here until the evacuations are finalized.”
Source: Middle East Online.