UN Security Council unanimously approves monitors for Aleppo evacuation

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UNITED NATIONS, Dec 19 (APP): With Russia backing, the United Nations Security Council on Monday decided to immediately deploy UN observers in Aleppo to monitor evacuations and report on the fate of civilians who remain in the besieged Syrian city.
The 15-member Council did so by unanimously adopting a French-drafted resolution that marks the first show of unity in months among world powers grappling with the nearly six-year-old crisis in Syria.
The resolution calls for UN officials and others to be able to monitor evacuations from eastern Aleppo and the safety of civilians who remain in the Syrian city.
The resolution “demands all parties to provide these monitors with safe, immediate and unimpeded access”.
The resolution, put to a vote Monday, comes as thousands more trapped Aleppo civilians and rebels await evacuation in freezing temperatures in the rebel enclave.
France and Russia, who submitted rival draft resolutions, announced agreement on a text after more than three hours of closed-door consultations on Sunday.
Syrian UN ambassador Bashar Ja’afari says Syria described the resolution as “just another part of the continued propaganda against Syria and its fight against terrorists.”
While he said Syria does not oppose the resolution, he insisted UN and other aid workers have always been permitted to safely operate in Aleppo.
The operation to bring thousands of people out of the last rebel-held enclave of Aleppo resumed Monday after being held up for several days, together with the evacuation of two besieged pro-government villages in nearby Idlib province.
Convoys of buses from eastern Aleppo reached rebel-held areas of countryside to the west of the city, according to a UN official and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group.
At the same time, 10 buses left the Shia Muslim villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, north of Idlib, for government lines in Aleppo, the sources said.
The evacuation of civilians, including wounded people, from the two villages had been demanded by the Syrian army and its allies before they would allow fighters and civilians trapped in Aleppo to depart.
The standoff halted the Aleppo evacuation over the weekend.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a total of 20,000 civilians had been evacuated from Aleppo, including 4,500 since midnight on Sunday.
The United Nations said nearly 50 children, some critically injured, were rescued from eastern Aleppo, where they had been trapped in an orphanage.
Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director, said in a statement that all 47 children trapped were taken to safety, “with some in critical condition from injuries and dehydration.”