Islamists attack, burn evacuation buses in Aleppo

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A man on a motorcycle drives past burning buses while en route to evacuate ill and injured people from the besieged Syrian villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, after they were attacked and burned, in Idlib province, Syria December 18, 2016. (Reuters)

ARA News

Aleppo – Jihadists from Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) attacked buses that were assigned to evacuate the ill and wounded from Kefraya and al-Foua on Sunday, setting several ablaze. The two Shia-majority villages have been under siege since Idlib fell in March 2015.

“Jabhat Fateh al-Sham extremists attacked and burned at least five buses that were heading to the besieged villages in Aleppo countryside to evacuate civilians affected by the conflict,” an informed local source told ARA News.

Rebel factions in Aleppo uniformly condemned the attack, for undermining the agreement and ultimately endangering thousands of trapped civilians.

Jahbat Fateh al-Sham was previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra or Nusra Front. In July the extremist group announced that it had split from al-Qaeda and was rebranding.

“This attack by Fateh al-Sham could have serious consequences on the evacuation of civilians and rebel fighters trapped in eastern Aleppo,” media activist Adnan Halwani told ARA News.

“The regime will most likely use the Fateh al-Sham’s burning of buses near Kefraya and al-Foua as an excuse to attack evacuees from eastern Aleppo,” Halwani explained.

The buses were reportedly torched during clashes between JFS and rebel factions that supported the evacuations.

Last Tuesday, Syrian rebel factions conceded that the battle for Aleppo was lost after sustaining debilitating losses. They have since agreed to withdraw from their besieged enclave in eastern Aleppo, as part of a local ceasefire agreement.

The opposition’s morale had ebbed as it became clear that no relief force was going to penetrate the army’s siege lines and no international agency was going to ground the Russian Air Force.

“The battle for Aleppo has ended with a victory for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and Russia,” human rights activist Louay al-Halabi told ARA News at the time.

The oppositions’ loss comes after years of fighting that claimed the lives of tens of thousands and razed much of Syria’s former financial capital.

Reporting by: Helin Saeed | Source: ARA News 

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