The Latest: Syrian state TV says Aleppo evacuation resumed


BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the developments related to the conflict in Syria (all times local):

4:45

Syrian TV says rebel evacuations have resumed from Aleppo, paving the way for the government to reassume control of the war-torn city.

It said five buses had arrived to the Ramouseh crossing between the rebel and government sides of the city, after rebels handed over pro-government fighters they took prisoner during previous rounds of fighting.

An Associated Press TV crew says four buses have arrived to the city’s rebel-held western countryside, marking the first successful evacuation in over 24 hours.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says there are 60 buses prepared to evacuate some 3,000 fighters and civilians from the opposition’s last foothold in the city. It is the last convoy set to leave Aleppo before the government is expected to declare it has reassumed full control of the city for the first time since rebels carved out an enclave for the opposition in 2012.

Syrian opposition forces agreed to surrender their last foothold in the city to the government last week. But a dispute delayed the final round of evacuations for over 24 hours after some 20,000 civilians and fighters were bused out of the war-torn city.

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3 p.m.

Syrian rebels say they have reached a deal with the government in Damascus to resume evacuations from the last rebel territory in the eastern part of the city of Aleppo.

Ahmad Qara Ali, spokesman for the Ahrar al-Sham rebel faction, announced on Wednesday afternoon that “an agreement has been reached to resume the evacuation of Aleppo.”

He says that “evacuations will begin shortly.”

Syrian opposition forces agreed to surrender their last foothold in the city to the government last week. But a dispute has delayed the final round of evacuations for over 24 hours after some 20,000 civilians and fighters were bused out of the war-torn city.

The government is expected to announce it has retaken full control of the city when the operations are complete.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is prepared to facilitate the evacuations when they resume.

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1:05 p.m.

Turkey’s state-run news agency has raised to four the number of Turkish soldiers who were killed in a battle to capture an Islamic State group-held town of al-Bab in northern Syria.

Anadolu Agency, quoting unnamed military sources, initially said three were killed in the clashes on Wednesday.

The agency later said one of the seriously wounded soldiers died in hospital a little while later. The fatality brings the total number of Turkish soldiers killed in Syria to 25.

The agency also says Turkish jets bombed suspected IS shelters and defensive positions s in the al-Bab area on Wednesday, reportedly destroying 24 targets and “neutralizing” more than 40 militants.

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12:25 p.m.

Turkey’s state-run news agency says three Turkish soldiers have been killed in Syria in the battle to retake the northern town of al-Bab from the Islamic State group.

The Anadolu Agency, citing unnamed military sources, says 11 Turkish soldiers were also wounded in the fighting on Wednesday, including one who was reported to be in critical condition.

The report says intense clashes are underway near a hospital in the town that the militants were using as a shelter and to store arms and ammunition.

Turkey sent ground troops into northern Syria in August to support Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces in clearing a border area of Islamic State group militants and to curb Kurdish territorial expansion.

At least 24 Turkish soldiers have been killed so far in the operation, entitled Euphrates Shield.

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10:45 a.m.

Syrian activists say the last buses meant to evacuate rebels and civilians from Aleppo have been delayed for nearly 24 hours. Reasons for the delay aren’t clear.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict though activists on the ground, says 60 buses are waiting to leave eastern Aleppo on Wednesday with some 3,000 evacuees — the final step that surrenders the Syrian opposition stronghold in the war-torn city to the government.

Ward Furati, spokesman for Aleppo’s Fastaqim rebel faction, says the fighters “won’t leave until security of all the civilians has been fully guaranteed.”

The Observatory also says 21 buses are waiting to evacuate the sick and wounded from the rebel-besieged Shiite villages of Foua and Kfarya as part of the cease-fire deal reached last week.

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