Monday brought more evacuations from the last rebel-held areas of Aleppo, Syria, and a pair of villages under rebel siege.
Activists and local officials said about 20 buses filled with evacuees went from eastern Aleppo to opposition-held areas as part of an operation that began last week.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted Monday that 20,000 people have been evacuated so far "to the area under control of the opposition".
Number of those evacuated from East #Aleppo to the area under control of opposition reached 20000. Our efforts continue.— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) December 19, 2016
Thousands of people remain in eastern Aleppo, where rebels seized control in 2012, but have lost nearly all of their territory during an offensive by government troops.
WATCH: Some Aleppo Refugees Arrive in Turkey
In exchange for the Aleppo evacuations, the government has demanded thousands of sick and injured civilians be allowed to leave Foua and Kefraya in northwest Idlib province. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 10 buses left those villages on Monday carrying evacuees.
On Sunday, al-Qaida-aligned rebel fighters attacked and burned buses bound for Foua and Kefraya, drawing a strong rebuke from U.N. humanitarian adviser for Syria Jan Egeland.
“Reckless armed men burning buses for Foua and Kefraya undermine evacuation and relief for all civilians in besieged areas in Syria,” Egeland complained in a Twitter post. The Syrian Observatory said Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front, was behind the bus burnings.
The U.N. Security Council is due to vote Monday on whether to send observers to Aleppo and to help provide protection for the civilians who remain.
The Security Council will consider a French proposal that expresses alarm at the worsening humanitarian crisis, and for the "tens of thousands of besieged Aleppo inhabitants" in need of evacuation. But Western diplomats told VOA they hold out little hope that the proposal will be approved by Russia, an ally of Syria's president and a veto wielding member of the council. Moscow has vetoed six resolutions on Syria since the conflict began in 2011.
Evacuations were suspend from eastern Aleppo Friday by the government in Damascus as rebel groups, international organizations and the Assad regime traded accusations about who was to blame.
Russia said the operation to evacuate civilians and insurgents from eastern Aleppo was complete, but opposition leaders said thousands still want to flee and accused Iranian militias and Hezbollah of executing several men in the last convoy to leave the city.
According to Syrian opposition leaders, the convoy carrying 800 people, including rebel fighters, was stopped by Iranian commanded militiamen in the Jisr al-Haj district. They forcibly disarmed the insurgents in breach of an agreement and seized a team of civil defense workers overseeing the convoy evacuation, killing three of them.
"Militias forced everyone to get off the buses, confiscated all individual weapons, forced men to get undressed to their underwear, killed three men and wounded seven others, then forced the convoy to go back to the besieged area of Aleppo city, and some buses are still missing,” said a witness, Ahmad Abo Al-Nour.
On Saturday, civilians and rebel fighters waiting for buses to evacuate them were shot at by Iranian-led militias loyal to Assad, according to activists.
An agreement struck Saturday was to give safe passage to those loyal to Assad's regime, including Iranian militia groups, from areas held or besieged by rebels, the Aleppo Media Center activist group said.
It was a new demand in exchange for the evacuation of civilians, rebels and others loyal to the opposition from eastern Aleppo, now almost entirely in government control.
Abdulkafi al-Hamdo, a teacher trapped in eastern Aleppo said he has no choice but to try to leave with a young daughter. “The weather is so cold,” he said. “The children are hungry they are crying. They are freezing.” He said people are afraid they will not be able to get out.”