Aleppo Evacuations Slow As Syrian Rebels Burn Evacuation Buses

Smoke rises in green government buses, in Idlib province, Syria, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. Militants have burned at least five buses assigned to evacuate wounded and sick people from two villages in northern Syria.  (SANA via AP)

Smoke rises in green government buses, in Idlib province, Syria, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. Militants have burned at least five buses assigned to evacuate wounded and sick people from two villages in northern Syria. (SANA via AP)

Gunfire stalled the evacuation of civilians from Aleppo on Friday, and it started up again over the weekend. The evacuations were a lot slower than they had been on Thursday, however, with only a few hundred getting out and only one of five sets of buses running in the Aleppo exodus.

The issue was the same one that caused struggles on Wednesday, the simultaneous evacuation of a pair of Shi’ite towns in the Idlib Province once again halted as forces from al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front attacked and burned a number of the buses that were to be used in Idlib.

Al-Qaeda and its allies control materially the whole Idlib Province, except for the two villages, and while some of the factions have agreed to let wounded villagers be evacuated, other forces have resisted that, and have tried to stop the buses running.

In blocking the Idlib pullout, these rebels are also threatening the pullout of rebel forces from Aleppo, a city which they have effectively lost. That this continues to happen may reflect a split between the Aleppo rebels looking for a busride to Idlib, and the Idlib rebels who resent the Aleppo defeat and see the evacuations are further cementing that defeat.


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