The ongoing evacuation of civilians from Aleppo was suspended on Friday after pro-regime foreign militants waylaid a civilian convoy shortly after it left Aleppo’s besieged eastern districts for the nearby city of Idlib.
According to Anadolu Agency correspondents in Aleppo, pro-Assad regime foreign fighters opened fire on the convoy of buses, which were carrying some 800 of the city’s civilian residents.
The fighters forced the vehicles to stop in southwestern Aleppo’s regime-held Ramouseh suburb and took the passengers hostage, correspondents reported.
Crowds of regime supporters then protested next to the convoy to demand that Syrian opposition forces lift an ongoing siege of the pro-regime Shia villages of Fua and Kefraya, both of which are located in Idlib province.
Members of the crowd reportedly demanded the release of relatives allegedly trapped in the two villages.
Under siege by armed opposition groups for more than a year and a half, Fua and Kefraya currently host fighters from both Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The Assad regime has been resupplying the two villages by air, while regime forces have besieged 18 opposition-held areas across war-torn Syria.
Under the terms of an earlier agreement between the Assad regime and Syrian opposition groups, civilians trapped in eastern Aleppo will be allowed to go to the opposition-held city of Idlib.
Situated near the border with Turkey, Idlib is located some 65 kilometers (roughly 40 miles) from Aleppo.
In recent days, at least 7,500 civilians have left eastern Aleppo for Idlib, according to opposition sources.
Since the Syrian war erupted in 2011, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to UN figures.
However, the Syrian Center for Policy Research, a Beirut-based NGO, has put the total death toll from the five-year conflict at more than 470,000.