Syria’s government says evacuations underway, but rebels dispute claims

World Today

A handout image released by the international NGO Save the Children on July 29, 2016 reportedly shows people gathering around the area of a damaged building of a maternity hospital supported by the NGO after it was hit by an air raid in the rebel-held town of Kafar Takharim, in Idlib province of northwest Syria. (AFP)

In Syria, civilians are beginning to exit rebel-held territory in Aleppo as part of a plan by the Russian and Syrian governments to open corridors for civilians to flee the battlefield.

CCTV’s Jim Spellman reports.

Syria's government says evacuations underway, but rebels dispute claims

Syria's government says evacuations underway, but rebels dispute claims

In Syria, civilians are beginning to exit rebel-held territory in Aleppo as part of a plan by the Russian and Syrian governments to open corridors for civilians to flee the battlefield. CCTV's Jim Spellman reports.

According to state-run Syrian media and Russian military officials, dozens of families have left the besieged rebel-controlled Eastern parts of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Up to 300,000 civilians are trapped as food supplies have begun running low.

Earlier this week the Syrian government along with the Russian military set up four humanitarian corridors, three for civilians and a fourth for armed rebels.

The civilians are being taken to makeshift shelters in the government-held western part of Aleppo. Those shelters can accommodate about 3,000 civilians. Syrian TV also showed some rebels surrendering to Syrian government troops.

Rebel fighters have been offered amnesty for the next three months if they surrender and lay down their arms.

Rebel leaders said the goal behind these corridors is to remove civilians from the Eastern parts of Aleppo so that government forces can more easily attack the rebels.

Government aircraft have been dropping leaflets on the besieged area encouraging civilians to leave and Russian officials said four more corridors could be opened in the coming days.

But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said they could be a “ruse” meant to give a tactical advantage to government troops while being presented as a humanitarian effort.

The Russians said these corridors could help set the stage for future negotiations between the government and the rebels. In the meantime, the United Nations supports the idea of civilian corridors but would like to control those routes and is calling for a 48-hour ceasefire to allow civilians to safely exit the conflict zone.