The Latest: UK medics stage Syria 'die-in' protest

AP News
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Posted: Dec 17, 2016 12:18 PM

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria where thousands more civilians and rebels are expected to leave the eastern part of the city of Aleppo under a key cease-fire deal (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

Doctors, nurses and medics have staged a protest outside Parliament in London against the attacks on their professional colleagues trying to save lives in Syria's civil war.

Saturday's demonstration by health charity Medact featured a variation of a sit-in protest it called a "die-in," in which medical practitioners lay prone on the pavement outside the Houses of Parliament.

Their banner read: "You take out 1 doctor, you take out 100,000 people (s)he can no longer care for."

Medact cites at least 382 attacks on 269 health care facilities in Syria since the war began in 2011.

The charity director, Dr. David McCoy, said the people of Britain "cannot turn a blind eye to the continued disregard of international humanitarian law in Syria and elsewhere and the targeting of our profession."

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5:30 p.m.

Thousands of people are protesting against the ongoing war in Syria at two different locations in the German capital.

More than 1,200 people, most of them Turkish immigrants, protested Saturday against the humanitarian crisis in besieged Aleppo on a square in Berlin's Neukoelln neighborhood. Many were waving Turkish and Syrian flags.

Another 900 protesters came together in front of the city's Reichstag Parliament building holding a candlelight vigil against the bombing of Syria and carrying signs demanding a truce for the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

The cease-fire and evacuation from east Aleppo earlier this week marked the end of the rebels' most important stronghold in the country's civil war, now in its sixth year.

Reports differed on how many people remain in the Aleppo enclave, ranging from 15,000 to 40,000 civilians, along with an estimated 6,000 fighters.

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5:15 p.m.

War photographer Paul Conroy, who was badly wounded in a 2012 attack in Syria, is returning for the first time as part of a British aid convoy to build a new children's hospital for Aleppo.

Trucks carrying supplies departed a central London hospital Saturday in a road trip expected to take about a week.

Conroy suffered severe leg wounds when government forces shelled a building filled with journalists in an opposition-held part of Homs on Feb. 22, 2012. Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik died in the blast.

Conroy says he's not concerned by returning to the war zone, describing the risk level as "far outweighed by what the Syrian people face every day."

The aid delivery, funded by an online crowdsourcing effort , seeks to rebuild a children's hospital destroyed last month during the Russian-backed government assault on east Aleppo.

A British-Syrian anesthetist leading the effort, Dr. Rola Hallam, said: "These are war crimes which have been allowed to continue with impunity and I felt it was time that we, the people, took action.

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9:45 a.m.

Syrian state TV says evacuations from east Aleppo are still suspended until rebels allow residents of two besieged Shiite villages to leave to government-controlled areas.

The channel's correspondent, speaking from Aleppo, said Saturday that the main condition for the Aleppo evacuation to resume is for residents of Foua and Kfarya to be allowed to leave.

The opposition's Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the evacuation of some 4,000 people, including wounded, from the villages could start Saturday.

The Aleppo evacuation was suspended Friday after a report of shooting at a crossing point into the enclave. Thousands were evacuated before the evacuation was suspended.

The Syrian government says the village evacuations and the one in eastern Aleppo must be done simultaneously, but the rebels say there's no connection.