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Crisis in Syria

U.N. to dispatch observers to Aleppo

Following a unanimous Security Council vote on Monday, the United Nations is getting ready to send monitors to Aleppo, Syria, to oversee the evacuation of rebels and civilians from besieged areas.

The observers will watch checkpoints, travel to neighborhoods where civilians and fighters remain trapped, and ride on buses carrying evacuees, The Wall Street Journal reports. The evacuations began last week, but they have been slow and, in some places, violent, with at least six people being killed; both the rebels and regime and allies say the other side is to blame. Diplomats also say they've heard reports that men of fighting age are being detained, and civilians are being pulled off buses and their valuables stolen. A spokesman for a rebel group said Monday evening that 135 buses have left eastern Aleppo, transporting fighters and civilians, and it's believed 15,000 or so rebels and civilians have been evacuated from opposition-held neighborhoods since Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Syrian government has criticized the resolution, and now the U.N. has to work with the regime and allies like Russia to guarantee access and safety for monitors. The U.N. did not say when the observers might enter Aleppo, but spokesman Stephane Dujarric said U.N. staffers already in Syria could be used as monitors. The U.N. has announced it plans to resume peace talks in Geneva on Feb. 8, 2017.