Then new gunfire inside Aleppo hindered the start of the evacuation there. Maan al-Shanan, an antigovernment activist in the east of the city said that pro-government forces had opened fire on rescue workers who were clearing rubble from the road to allow buses and ambulances to pass, killing one person and wounding three others.

If successful, the evacuation deal would mark a major turning point in Syria's nearly six-year conflict. Since early in the war, Aleppo, once Syria's industrial center, has been split, with the government holding the west and rebels holding many neighborhoods in the east. But military aid for the Syrian government from Iran, Russia and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah turned the tide in the government's favor, allowing it to surround the rebels.

The BBC's Asaf Aboud, in Aleppo, says the government has indicated that the evacuated civilians will be able to choose whether they want to leave or stay in the city. BBC reports, that it is believed that up to 50,000 people still remain. That is said to include about 4,000 fighters and about 10,000 family members of fighters. According to The New York Times, the plight of those trapped in eastern Aleppo as supplies have dwindled and destruction has spread has caused anguish among humanitarian workers.