Aleppo residents wait for safe exit as world protests their situation

Thousands of Aleppo residents are facing another night stuck in the besieged city’s near-freezing temperatures, despite government assurances that they would be able to leave.

More than 40,000 people are desperate to flee the city as aid workers plead for their safe passage and reports emerge of civilians being executed by pro-government forces.

Ishmael al Abdullah, of the Syria Civil Defence group the White Helmets, told Sky News that at least three people had been killed trying to escape the former rebel enclave in the east of the city on Friday.

He said: “Yesterday, they opened fire on the people who were trying to escape from this hell – they killed three people.

“Assad mercenaries killed the three people in cold blood in front of the Red Crescent and all the guys who witnessed that crime… Now we are waiting for the new deal.

“Up to now we do not trust anyone. Up till now we haven’t seen any deal and no one saw up to now the green buses (used to take civilians out of Aleppo).”

The United Nations Security Council will vote on Sunday on sending observers to the city.

Both sides claimed on Saturday to have reached a deal allowing the evacuation of civilians but the rebels blamed Iran and its Shia militias for holding up the process.

They also urged Russia – which has backed the Syrian government of Bashar al Assad – to live up to its commitment and implement the deal.

The Saudis also blamed Iran, accusing it of meddling in Syria to expand its influence in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, which is a powerful supporter of the rebels, called for an immediate end to what it said were war crimes by Assad’s forces.

Rebel fighters and civilians gather as they wait to be evacuated from eastern Aleppo

A foreign ministry official quoted by the Saudi state news agency SPA said: “It is by far the worst humanitarian tragedy of the beginning of the 21st century unfolding before the international community’s eyes.

“The horrific massacres perpetrated in Aleppo… have amounted to war crimes against humanity.”

People in London protesting against the worsening situation in Aleppo. Pic: @paul_pemberton

Meanwhile, people in cities around the world have been protesting against the situation in Aleppo, with demonstrations in places such as Paris, Berlin, Amman and Kuala Lumpur.

In London, public health charity Medact staged a “die-in”, with medics lying down on the pavement outside the Houses of Parliament to protest against the attacks on healthcare facilities in Aleppo.

Since the Syrian war began five years ago, the group said there have been more than 382 attacks on 269 healthcare facilities, with more than 126 attacks this year alone.

Also in London, a march was organised by Syria Solidarity Campaign through the city centre towards Downing Street.

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