The evacuation of civilians and rebels from eastern Aleppo was delayed on Wednesday, with an opposition group saying the agreement might not kick in until Thursday.
After two weeks of intense fighting, a ceasefire was brokered by Turkey and Russia on Tuesday, with Russia agreeing to stop bombing Aleppo and the rebels promising to withdraw from the city, effectively returning it to the Syrian government. A witness told Reuters that by dawn Wednesday, there were buses idling at a designated area, but it was not clear when they would start driving into the rebel-held districts. The opposition says Shi'ite militias aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are behind the delay. "What is stopping the agreement presently is Iranian obstinacy," a commander with the Nour al-Din al-Zinki group told Reuters. "But the deal still stands, the ceasefire stands until now."
The U.N. said it has received reports that Syrian soldiers and their allies shot and killed 82 civilians on Tuesday as they tried to leave eastern Aleppo. Witnesses who remain in the eastern part of the city say they are fearful of arrest, conscription, or summary execution, and outside, the streets are strewn with dead bodies. The civil war in Syria has been raging for more than five years, but reached a turning point 18 months ago when Russia entered the fray and deployed its air force to the country. There are still large portions of Syria not under government control, including Palmyra, which was recaptured by the Islamic State over the weekend.