The Latest: Shots fired at ambulances in Aleppo, 3 wounded


BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria where a cease-fire deal to allow evacuation of rebels and tens of thousands of civilians from eastern Aleppo is back on (all times local):

11:05 a.m.

Syrian activists say pro-government forces have shot at ambulances trying to leave eastern Aleppo, wounding at least 3 evacuees.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the ambulances were still in opposition territory when they came under small-arms fire from the government side on Thursday. It says three people were wounded.

Local hospital director and opposition activist Hamza Khatib says no ambulances or buses have been able to leave eastern Aleppo yet.

The Syrian Civil Defense responders posted on social media that two of its members were wounded when government forces fired on ambulances leaving the opposition’s remaining sliver of land in Aleppo.

The activist-run group says they were evacuating wounded civilians and rebels as part of an agreement to return the city to government control. The group says one person died and two were wounded but the fatality could not immediately be confirmed.

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9:40 a.m.

A Pan-Arab TV station is broadcasting live from a crossing point in eastern Aleppo, where ambulances are on hand to evacuate the wounded and sick Syrians out of remaining rebel area of the city.

The Al-Mayadeen TV footage shows the Ramouseh crossing point on the southern edge of the rebel enclave and ambulances belonging to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent parked and waiting on Thursday. A green-colored government bus is also seen in the footage.

The evacuation is part of an agreement between rebels and the Syrian government for the pullout from opposition-held neighborhoods of fighters and civilians in what is effectively Aleppo’s surrender to the government.

The rebels have held to the eastern part of the city for four years but their enclave rapidly evaporated in the past days in the face of a fierce Syrian government onslaught.

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9:20 a.m.

The Russian military says it’s preparing for the rebels’ withdrawal from Aleppo.

The military’s Center for Reconciliation in Syria says that 20 buses and 10 ambulances are prepared to carry the rebels to Idlib on Thursday.

The center says it’s preparing for the rebels’ exit together with the Syrian government. It says Syrian authorities have given security guarantees to all rebels willing to leave Aleppo.

The Russian military also says it’s monitoring the situation using drones.

A previous attempt to arrange a rebel withdrawal failed Wednesday when a cease-fire deal between the rebels and the Syrian government collapsed, with the government and the rebels blaming each other for its failure.

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8:55 a.m.

A Syrian army official confirms that all is ready for rebels and civilians to start leaving Aleppo “at any moment.”

The army official, who spoke by telephone to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said all preparations are ready for the operation to begin on Thursday.

His comments came after the cease-fire deal, mediated by Ankara and Moscow, unraveled amid fighting the previous day.

An opposition monitoring group says the operation has already begun but that could not immediately be independently confirmed. —Bassem Mroue in Beirut

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8:25 a.m.

The media arm of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group says overnight negotiations have reinforced a cease-fire deal to allow Syrian rebels and tens of thousands of civilians to leave the besieged eastern city of Aleppo.

It says Syrian rebels will likely begin leaving their last holdout in Aleppo “in the coming hours.”

Thursday’s announcement by Hezbollah’s Military Media came after the cease-fire deal, mediated by Ankara and Moscow, unraveled amid fighting the previous day. Shiite Hezbollah militiamen are fighting in the Syrian civil war on the side of President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Damascus and its allies have not commented on the cease-fire being back on. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fighting stopped in the city around 4 a.m.