Aleppo: A White Helmet rescue worker in war-torn Aleppo has told Sky News how people were shot by pro-government forces as they tried to flee the “hell” of the Syrian city.
Ishmael al Abdullah, of the Syria Civil Defence group, described the “dangerous journey” faced in trying to escape the eastern rebel enclave and said tens of thousands remained trapped and were desperate to leave.
He was speaking after the operation to evacuate people from the last opposition-held areas stalled on Friday amid claims of violations.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called on the warring factions to agree a plan to provide a safe passage for evacuees.
Both sides now claim to have reached a deal to allow the evacuation to resume, although this will inevitably be fragile.
Russia has been accused of failing to “restrain” Iranian-backed militias to allow for the evacuation to continue.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Abdullah said more than 40,000 people remain trapped.
He said: “Yesterday, they opened fire on the people who were trying to escape from this hell – they killed three people.
“Assad mercenaries killed the three people in cold blood in front of the Red Crescent and all the guys who witnessed that crime… Now we are waiting for the new deal.
“Up to now we do not trust anyone. Up till now we haven’t seen any deal and no one saw up to now the green buses (used to take civilians out of Aleppo).”
Highlighting the plight of residents, he said: “They are trapped. Most of them are waiting to leave the city.
“Everyone wants to leave Aleppo city.”
He added: “The people who arrived on the other side told us it was like the Assad forces and the pro-government militias were looking at the people and may be at any time they will shoot anyone who will look at them.
“It’s a really a dangerous journey between the two sides.”
Mr Abdullah also gave an insight into the hazardous work of the White Helmets in Aleppo and claimed they had been deliberately targeted by the the military of President Bashar al Assad.
He said: “We saved a lot of people – a lot of kids.
“And this situation, it’s like when we respond to any bombing site… many times Assad’s forces targeted us and we lost a lot of friends when they were trying to save the people.
“It’s like a strategy for them where they want to kill everyone who is trying to save anyone, anyone under the rubble who needs help.”
:: A convoy carrying enough supplies to build a children’s hospital near Aleppo is due to leave central London for Syria.
Around 3,000 people have donated nearly £150,000 to fund what organisers say is the first ever crowd-funded hospital.