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Aleppo evacuation suspended

A ceasefire agreement to evacuate tens of thousands of fighters and civilians from the remaining rebel-held pockets of eastern Aleppo has been suspended, according to a Syrian official.

The government official overseeing the operation told Reuters it was suspended due to "obstructions".

State TV reported that rebel groups were attempting to smuggle prisoners and heavy weapons out with them, violating the evacuation deal.

But opposition media outlet Orient TV, accused Shia militias loyal to the Syrian government of opening fire on the convoy.

A rebel commander confirmed the claim. A witness heard at least four blasts from where buses had been departing.

As part of an agreement between Turkey and Russia, tens of thousands of rebels and civilians were supposed to be evacuated from eastern Aleppo to rebel-held Idlib, letting the Syrian government to take full control of the city after years of fighting.

The operation launched on Thursday and was expected to take several days.

Earlier yesterday, the Russian defence ministry said at least 6,000 people, including 3,000 rebels, had been evacuated.

Mr Zouhir Al Shimale, a journalist in eastern Aleppo, reported that the evacuation had been moving at a snail's pace.

"People were in the street overnight," he told Al Jazeera yesterday, adding the temperature had dipped below 0 deg C.

About 50,000 people, mostly civilians, are still trapped there despite the deal, UN peace envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said. - WIRES

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