People walk down a destroyed street during evacuations in Aleppo, Syria, on Thursday. According to news reports, evacuations of civilians from the rebel-held parts of Aleppo was suspended on Friday, likely because of the violation of a cease-fire. Aleppo's residents have been under siege for weeks and have suffered bombardment as well as chronic food and fuel shortages. Photo by Ghith Sy/European Pressphoto Agency
ALEPPO, Syria, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The Syrian regime under President Bashar al-Assad has suspended the evacuation of civilians and rebel militants from east Aleppo after explosions were reported.
The circumstances surrounding the explosions on Friday near an evacuation convoy are unclear.
The Guardian reports a source with knowledge of the evacuation said efforts were suspend over the rebel militant's refusal to allow the evacuation of people wounded in the Fua and Kefraya Shiite villages in the Idlib province that have been besieged by rebels for years.
Meanwhile, Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency reported forces loyal to Assad opened fire on a convoy of evacuation vehicles as they attempted to leave the city.
World Health Organization official Elizabeth Hoff said the planned evacuation of sick and injured from east Aleppo was suspended on orders from Russia, a key ally of Assad, which offered no reason.
"There are still high numbers of women and infants -- children under five -- that need to get out," Hoff said from western Aleppo during a United Nations telephone press conference. "They have been collecting themselves on the points where the buses and the ambulances were waiting for them, but now with the operation aborted they had to go back to their houses and this a great concern to us because we know that they are desperate to get out."
Up to 8,000 people have fled Aleppo's besieged eastern districts after a cease-fire came into effect Thursday.
Syria has been blighted by a complex civil war in which the Islamic State, the Syrian government and multiple Syrian rebel groups fight for control of territory. The battle for Aleppo was one of the most significant efforts in the war, where rebels controlled major territory in a strategic city that was the most-populated before the war.
Prior to evacuations, the United Nations estimated up to 50,000 people were trapped in Syria's eastern sector. Thousands also fled during the weekend.