Syria evacuation convoy heads for besieged regime-held villages
GAZIANTEP - Vehicles were en route Tuesday to two government-held villages under rebel siege in Syria's Idlib province to evacuate sick and wounded residents, a Syrian official told state media.
The evacuation is set to take place as a fragile deal to allow the departure of civilians and fighters from the last rebel-held part of Aleppo was getting underway.
"Twenty-nine buses and ambulances, and medical teams, have been sent to the besieged villages of Fuaa and Kafraya in Idlib province to evacuate humanitarian cases and a number of families," the governor of neighbouring Hama province, Mohamed al-Hazouri, told state news agency SANA.
A Syrian source on the ground said that buses and ambulances had begun moving from the Qalaat al-Madiq area in the northwest of Hama province towards the two villages.
The source said "1,200 injured and sick people and their families will be evacuated."
The Syrian government and its ally Iran had reportedly pushed for evacuations from Fuaa and Kafraya to be included in the deal to allow the departure of the remaining civilians and fighters in east Aleppo.
That evacuation had been due to begin on Wednesday, but was postponed after objections from the government, including over the involvement of Fuaa and Kafraya, a source close to the regime said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, also reported the evacuation of sick and wounded from Fuaa and Kafraya was expected to begin on Thursday.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said the evacuees were expected to go to the government stronghold of Latakia province.
"The deal is linked to the evacuation happening in Aleppo," he said,
Fuaa and Kafraya have been besieged by rebels since spring 2015.