World News

Pro-Assad forces fire on convoy leaving east Aleppo: rescue workers

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Pro-Syrian government fighters opened fire on a convoy as it prepared to leave rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Thursday, wounding at least three people, a rescue service spokesman said.

Rebels are leaving the last enclave they hold in the city after major advances by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

“(Pro-government fighters) fired at us and at ambulance vehicles and those people opening up the road,” the spokesman said.

The head of the ambulance service in the district, Ahmed Sweid, told pro-opposition Orient TV that three people had been wounded in the incident.

“The convoy was shot at by regime forces and we have three injured, one of them from civil defense. They were brought back to besieged areas,” he told Orient TV.

Early reports indicated at least one person had died. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which uses a network of sources across Syria, said there were no deaths, but some of the wounded were in serious conditions.

The civil defense rescue service said on Twitter that five were wounded.

An official with an Aleppo rebel group said the first convoy had reached the Ramousah junction on the way out when they came under fire. Rebel officials said they did not complete the crossing.

In a video interview posted to journalists, a man who said he was a civil defense worker said snipers had fired on people as they tried to open the road for the ambulances to pass a government checkpoint out of the rebel-held sector.

“The ambulances were on the way to the crossing which was specified to us to for evacuating people and the regime forces started to shoot at us...Even the men who tried to open the road with their trucks, they fired at them,” the man in the video said.

A Reuters witness in nearby government-held territory heard a burst of gunfire that lasted several minutes.

Reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi, Tom Perry, Lisa Barrington, Writing by Tom Perry, Editing by Angus MacSwan