Evacuation efforts out of eastern Aleppo have been sporadic since Dec. 13, when a ceasefire was reached between Syrian government forces and rebels fighting to retain control of the city of Aleppo. The truce ended on Dec. 14 after fighting picked up again, and a new ceasefire was declared in an effort to allow the estimated 50,000 civilians still trapped in the city. That ceasefire, which began Thursday, was halted early Friday after a convoy leaving the city was hit with gunfire.
Meanwhile, during a rally in Pennsylvania as part of his ongoing "thank you" tour Donald Trump finally broke his silence on the devastation coming from Aleppo. The president-elect, who has called for "extreme vetting" of immigrants from countries that support terrorism and has been criticized for his dishonest rhetoric about the realities of Syrian refugees, told rallygoers that under his presidency, the U.S. would build "safe zones" for civilians forced to flee their hometowns.
"When I look at what's going on in Syria, it's so sad," he told the crowd in Hershey, Pennsylvania. "It's so sad, and we're going to help people." According to the New York Times, Trump said he'd ask Persian Gulf nations, which includes Iran and Iraq, to put in money for a project to "help build safe zones in Syria, so people will have a chance."
The Times noted that Trump had suggested building these safe zones during his campaign, but this is the first time he's made the suggestion since he began receiving intelligence briefings — which he has said he doesn't need every day. During his campaign, Trump suggested the creation of safe zones for Syrian refugees with the intent to keep them out of the U.S. and Europe.