The final stage of the evacuation of rebel-held districts of the Syrian city of Aleppo is reportedly facing delays. State media blamed rebels in nearby Idlib province, accusing them of preventing the simultaneous evacuation of two pro-government Shia towns there. The Red Cross says some 25,000 people have left Aleppo in the past week. They are being transported to rebel-held territory in the countryside west of Aleppo and in Idlib, where camps are being set up. If the delays are resolved, BBC correspondent says, Wednesday could be the day the whole of Aleppo returns to government control.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says 10 more buses have arrived to the west Aleppo countryside in northern Syria evacuating residents from the opposition’s last foothold in eastern Aleppo. Ingy Sedky, Damascus spokeswoman for the ICRC, says evacuations would continue throughout the day. The ICRC says 25,000 people have been bused out of east Aleppo since rebels effectively surrendered the area under an Ankara- and Moscow-brokered deal. It’s unclear how many remain.
Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers were taking part in a training exercise this week at an IDF base in southern Israel ahead of the evacuation of the West Bank outpost of Amona, set for later this month. The training was conducted at the Tzeelim base in the Negev Desert. Simulations of various scenarios included the forcible evacuation of people passively resisting and violent reactions as well. The troops and officers also trained for a possible need to cordon off the illegal outpost to secure the evacuation, which is expected to take place before or on December 25, a deadline set by the High Court in a ruling determining it was built on privately owned Palestinian land.
On Wednesday, the Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides in Syria announced that Syria’s government forces have regained control over 15 districts of the city of Aleppo, retaking 70% of the city’s eastern part from militants. AP reported that the militant groups entrenched in eastern Aleppo asked the Syrian government for an immediate ceasefire, citing the need to evacuate wounded fighters as Syrian forces advanced deeper into the militant-held areas. According to the proposal, the truce is needed to facilitate the evacuation of the wounded militants to the northern part of the Aleppo province controlled by Turkey. The Syrian government rejected the proposal, insisting that the militants should leave the city. Meanwhile, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the militants are still free to leave Aleppo and that this proposal is still in force. In the meantime, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia is still holding talks with the Syrian opposition. On Wednesday Sergey Lavrov met his US and German counterparts, John Kerry and Frank-Walter Steinmeier respectively, in Hamburg, on the sidelines of the OSCE foreign ministers’ meeting, particularly to discuss the situation in Syria. Furthermore, on Wednesday evening, six Western nations (UK, France, Italy, Germany, USA, Canada) pushed for an immediate ceasefire in Aleppo on Wednesday.
On Monday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he was not expecting that the court-ordered evacuation of the Amona outpost by the end of the year would see violence on the part of the settlers living there. Erdan later acknowledged that the legislation alone may not avert the demolition, but said in such a case he has “no doubt” the police will do their job and the government will comply with the court order. The Minister said he is familiar with the Amona residents and “the majority or all are law-abiding and will not lift a hand against a policeman.”
Palestinian landowners filed an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday rejecting demands to postpone the evacuation of the illegal Israeli outpost of Amona, according to a statement by Israeli human rights group Yesh Din. The appeal was filed by Israeli lawyers Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zacharaa, and called on the court not to respond to the demands of the Israeli State Attorney’s office, which requested the postponement on the basis that it could not arrange alternative housing for the residents of Amona before the target date of December this year.