An operation to evacuate civilians and rebel fighters from the last opposition-held areas of Aleppo continued on Friday (16 December) under a ceasefire that would see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government retake the city.

Aleppo evacuation
Buses are seen parked in Aleppo's government controlled area of Ramouseh, as they wait to evacuate civilians and rebels from eastern Aleppo, SyriaOmar Sanadiki/Reuters

Thousands of civilians and rebel fighters have left Aleppo in convoys of buses and ambulances in the past 24 hours – hundreds of whom were wounded. However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group claim the numbers are much higher.

Aleppo evacuation
People get on buses to be evacuated from al-Sukkari rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo in Syria
Aleppo evacuation
Syrians, who were evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, arrive in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the cityBaraa al-Halabi/AFP

The number of buses being used has doubled to 50, Zakaria Malahifji, a Turkey-based official in the Fastaqim rebel group told Reuters on the second day of evacuation process, suggesting that the speed of evacuations was increasing. Yet despite the growing numbers, the villages of Foua and Kefraya – both besieged by rebels in the neighbouring Idlib province – have yet to see the evacuation process begin. It was unclear why buses hadn't arrived, but Syrian state media said that a convoy had set off to evacuate the villages on Thursday (15 December).

Aleppo evacuation
A wounded Syrian, who was evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, is carried by a medic as she arrives in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the cityBaraa al-Halabi/AFP
Aleppo evacuation
A wounded Syrian, who was evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, is put into the back of an ambulance upon his arrival in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the cityBaraa al-Halabi/AFP
Aleppo evacuation
A wounded Syrian, who was evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, lies in the back of an ambulance upon his arrival in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the cityBaraa al-Halabi/AFP
Aleppo evacuation
A wounded Syrian, who was evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, lies in the back of an ambulance upon his arrival in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the cityBaraa al-Halabi/AFP

Aleppo had been divided between government and rebel areas of control in the nearly six-year civil war, but a lightning advance by the Syrian army and its allies that began in mid-November saw the insurgents lose most of their territory in a matter of weeks. The ceasefire deal, brokered by Damascus ally Moscow and rebel backers Turkey earlier in the week, initially broke down on Wednesday as fighting resumed and Iran reportedly introduced a new demand for the evacuation of two Shia-majority villages in Idlib.

Aleppo evacuation
Syrians, who were evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, arrive in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the cityBaraa al-Halabi/AFP
Aleppo evacuation
Syrian children, who were evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, arrive in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the cityBaraa al-Halabi/AFP
Aleppo evacuation
A rebel fighter carries bread for evacuees from rebel-held east Aleppo, upon their arrival to the town of al-Rashideen, which is held by insurgents in SyriaAmmar Abdullah/Reuters
Aleppo evacuation
Syrians, who were evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, arrive in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the cityOmar Haj Kadour/AFP
Aleppo evacuation
A man who was evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, reacts as he arrives in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the cityOmar Haj Kadour/AFP
Aleppo evacuation
Syrians, who were evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, arrive in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the cityBaraa al-Halabi/AFP
Aleppo evacuation
Syrian children, who were evacuated from rebel-held neighbourhoods in the embattled city of Aleppo, gesture as they arrive in the opposition-controlled Khan al-Aassal region, west of the cityBaraa al-Halabi/AFP
Aleppo evacuation
Evacuees from rebel-held east Aleppo, arrive to the town of al-Rashideen, which is held by insurgents in SyriaAmmar Abdullah/Reuters