Hundreds of civilians leaving rebel-held areas of Aleppo

A Syrian official said 951 people were evacuated in the first convoy

Hundreds of civilians leaving rebel-held areas of Aleppo

Buses in Aleppo wait to take civilians away | Image via @995Khaled on Twitter

Hundreds of civilians have started to leave eastern Aleppo headed for rebel-held areas outside the city.

Images on Syrian state television showed a convoy of at least 17 buses and 10 ambulances being driven out of the rebel-held area of the city carrying people being evacuated as part of a ceasefire deal.

A Syrian official said 951 people - including women, children and the wounded - were evacuated in the first convoy.

Witnesses told Reuters news agency that the green government buses appeared to be full as they left the Ramousah district, which has been under siege by Syrian government forces for months.

Earlier, around 200 wounded people were expected to be evacuated through government territory and taken to a handover point in rebel-held territory west of the devastated city.

A rescue service spokesman claimed the first ambulances were shot at by pro-Assad militias as they crossed out of the east of the city, wounding three people.

Russia has said the rebels will be transported on 20 buses and 10 ambulances in a corridor towards Idlib.

Soldiers will also escort them from the city under orders from President Vladimir Putin, according to state news agencies.

The Russian defence ministry said Syrian authorities had guaranteed the safety of the rebels and their families and added it would use drones to monitor the convoy.

Aid trucks over Turkish border

Another 29 trucks and ambulances along with medics were heading to the villages of al Foua and Kefraya, which have been besieged by rebels, to evacuate wounded people and their families, according to Syrian state media.

And aid trucks accompanied by UN vehicles crossed over the Turkey border into northern Syria on Thursday, Reuters reported.

But humanitarian workers have expressed concerns that the deal could break apart.

Mike Seawright, founder of Relief Aid, said: "Our main interest is to see action carried out rather than just the words of the peace deal negotiations and so certainly we support the concept of safe passage.

"The people on the ground subjected to ongoing and systematic attacks against civilian areas are certainly thankful of the deal being in place, but the big question from here is will they be included in the convoy."

It comes after a new agreement was reached for the evacuation of rebel fighters on Thursday.

The Ahrar al Sham rebel group said negotiators had overcome apparent obstruction by Iran and its militias to block the evacuation.

Syrian rebels have said that Turkey has played a major role in getting Russia to exert pressure on Bashar al Assad to stand by the deal after it was delayed on Wednesday as the fragile ceasefire collapsed amid more airstrikes and shelling in Aleppo.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Mr Putin agreed in a phone call on Wednesday to revive the deal.

The evacuation plan emerged after two weeks of rapid advances by the Syrian army and its allies that drove rebels into a small pocket of the city under heavy bombardment.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in the government campaign to retake Aleppo.