Snow is falling in Syria, hiding the scars of war as the last refugees are evacuated from Aleppo after a day of waiting in the freezing cold because of delays.
Coaches arrived on Wednesday to load up with some 600 people, among the last of some 26,000 to benefit from the evacuation deal. One rebel official said he estimated some 2000 people and fighters remained in the last pocket under rebel control in the east of the city, but human rights observers say the city has now fallen to Syrian government forces.
Those ferried from Aleppo went west into rebel-held territory, but they were not the only people on the move. Under the terms of the evacuation deal brokered by Turkey people from two Sh’ite villages near Idlib, al-Foua and Kefraya are also being evacuated, some 750 so far according to the UN. But it cannot confirm that Aleppo is now clear of civilians.
The shi’ite villagers are being brought into government-held territory near Aleppo where shelters have been set up to take care of them. But their immediate future, like any Syrian refugees’ looks bleak; expelled from their homes and surrounded by devastation, they may be safe for now but their country is ruined.