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World

Evacuations Continue As Syrian Regime Solidifies Control Of Aleppo

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Aleppo is about 25 miles from Syria's border with Turkey. Thousands of people desperate to escape the battles over the city have been bussed out of its rebel-held part as forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad have consolidated power there.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Rami Zayn (ph) is an opposition activist who had been trying to get out of the city for the past four days. Today he succeeded, boarding a Red Cross bus which took him to an area west of the city where rebels are in control. He says even after boarding the bus, he waited 11 hours among dozens of orphans, everyone tired, hungry and thirsty - also lucky.

RAMI ZAYN: There were, like, tens of thousands of people trying to get into the buses. It's extremely cold. It's minus degrees all the time. I felt like in Resurrection Day or in a World War or something like that.

SIEGEL: Rami Zayn was among the 5,000 people bussed out by the International Committee of the Red Cross since midnight. The fall of rebel-held Aleppo is one of the most significant turns in the nearly six-year-long civil war in Syria.

SHAPIRO: As we'll hear in a moment, there are few independent observers in Aleppo to protect those who remain and safeguard the passage of more so they can leave. As for Rami Zayn, he is relieved to have escaped.

ZAYN: It was like you got your life back. You forgot that you lost everything. I forgot I was hungry or thirsty. I was just celebrating that I had the chance to live. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.