Between the 15 and 22 December, 2016 one of the largest and most complex evacuations of civilians in recent history, took place from the Syrian city of Aleppo. The warring parties had agreed that the neutral and impartial International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) should be asked to facilitate the evacuation of thousands of people from the eastern part of the city. Here, for the first time is the inside story of those fraught and dangerous December days...
The shelling had been incessant. The suffering immeasurable. The battle for Aleppo had ripped the heart out of the city and drained it of its soul. The city had been divided between east and west but the front lines were a complex patchwork. Sieges within sieges.
In four years of bitter fighting, thousands had died, hundreds of thousands had been forced to flee their homes. Now, it all boiled down to a few square kilometres in eastern Aleppo, as government forces closed in. Hundreds perhaps, thousands, of lives were at stake, unless an immediate evacuation of eastern Aleppo could take place.