World

Desperate waiting game begins as aid waits for Aleppo civilians to escape

The Turkish Red Crescent says it is ready to help refugees fleeing Aleppo, and is assessing the state of camps in Idlib, as the world waits for pro-Assad fighters to honour the latest ceasefire.

Ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia is broken by air strikes, shelling and gunfire

Buses ready to take civilians leaving from rebel-held areas of Aleppo are seen waiting on Wednesday. Thousands of cold and hungry civilians crowded the streets of Aleppo uncertain of their future after their planned evacuation from the last rebel pocket of the city was delayed. (George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)

A team from Turkey's Red Crescent is in Idlib in northern Syria waiting for civilians to be allowed to evacuate Aleppo, 65 kilometres away.

The only thing they know for sure now, according to the group's president Dr. Kerem Kinik, is that 1,000 refugees who fled Aleppo yesterday and made it to a Russian checkpoint are making their way to Idlib.

After that, if the ceasefire actually materializes, there could be 50,000 more people.

In a telephone interview with CBC News Istanbul, Kinik said they have blankets and clothing and are in Idlib to assess the state of shelter there. The Red Crescent will help determine if the existing camps are sufficient and if additional ones need to be set up.

The planned evacuation of rebel districts of Aleppo stalled on Wednesday, as air strikes and heavy shelling hit the city and Iran was said to have imposed new conditions on a ceasefire deal.

People wait with their cars to join an aid convoy to Aleppo organized by IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation about to leave, on Wednesday in Istanbul. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's main backers in the battle that has all but ended four years of rebel resistance in the city, wanted a simultaneous evacuation of wounded from two villages, Foua and Kefraya, that are besieged by rebel fighters, rebel and UN sources told Reuters.

Kinik told CBC News that reports Turkey would be building a new camp to house up to 80,000 refugees, fueled by a tweet by Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek on Tuesday night was a "misunderstanding."

He added that at this point they are not expecting those fleeing Aleppo to cross over into Turkey. That, he said, may come weeks from now.

For that to even be a possibility, however, the assault on Aleppo must stop.

With files from Reuters

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