Buses carrying Syrian civilians and fighters began leaving the last rebel-held enclave of Aleppo on Wednesday after being stalled for a day, aid officials and pro-government media reports said.

Obstacles hindering evacuations from east Aleppo and from two villages besieged by rebels outside the city had been overcome and the operation would be completed within hours, according to a news service run by the Lebanese group Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian government.

The eventual departure of the thousands left in the insurgent zone will hand full control of the city to President Bashar al-Assad, the biggest prize of Syria’s nearly six-year-old civil war.

“Buses are now moving again from east Aleppo. We hope that this continues so that people can be safely evacuated,” a U.N. official in Syria told Reuters, as snow began to fall on Aleppo.

People had been waiting in freezing temperatures since the evacuation hit problems on Tuesday, when dozens of buses were stuck in Aleppo and the evacuation of the two Shi’ite villages, al-Foua and Kefraya, also stalled. Rebels and government forces blamed each other for the hold-up.


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