Iran blocks Aleppo evacuation deal to add 'new conditions'
Iran wants to link the deal to two government-held villages in northwestern Syria under rebel siege and for the bodies of killed Iranian soldiers to be returned, rebel and local sources said.
"It seems as though Iran wants to block the deal from being implemented because it has been left out and wants to add conditions such as allowing injured people to leave the villages of Foua and Kafraya," local activist Abdel Qadeer Khider told The New Arab.
Khider added that buses had entered rebel-held areas and evacuated 35 wounded people out of a total 150 but that Iranian-backed militias stationed at a checkpoint had turned back the injured.
The militias had demanded that the sieges on two towns in Idlib province - end, or that troops and civilians could be evacuated to regime territories.
A legal adviser to the rebels accused Iran of foiling the Russia and Turkey-brokered deal by imposing new conditions on the rebels.
Osama Abu Zaid, said Iran has demanded the remains of Iranians killed in Aleppo be returned and that Iranian hostages held in rebel-controlled Idlib province be released.
He said the conditions were "exclusively sectarian and crippling."
Along with Russia, Iran backs President Bashar al-Assad's government and has committed advisers and elite Revolutionary Guard forces to the government's war. Turkey backs the rebels fighting to topple Assad.
A source close to the regime, on the other hand, said that the evacuation had been suspended after objections from Syria's government.
The source said Damascus had baulked when the rebels wanted to increase the number of those to be evacuated from 2,000 to 10,000.
Around 60,000 Syrians are trapped in the last remaining districts of Aleppo held by rebels, following an offensive by regime forces which saw the capture of nearly all areas in the city this week.
An agreement was reached on Tuesday to allow the remaining civilians and rebels to leave Aleppo following a truce agreement reached between Russia and the opposition in Turkey.
Deadly clashes erupted in Syria's Aleppo on Wednesday, as the deal for the evacuation of rebel areas was on hold, leaving thousands of cold and hungry civilians uncertain of their future.