Pause in Aleppo fighting spurs thousands of civilians to flee rebel-held areas

ALEPPO, Syria -- They came by the thousands and just kept on coming. On foot, in wheelbarrows, using makeshift stretchers, any way they could.

Exhausted, frightened, hungry, but alive.

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Civilians making their escape from rebel-held Aleppo, Syria

CBS News

Some families were walking for over eight hours. They don’t know where they are going, they tell CBS News, as long as it’s as far away as possible from the bombing.

Early Friday morning there was a brief lull in the fighting, and that’s when thousands of civilians still trapped in rebel-held Aleppo made a run for it.

For weeks, the might of the Syrian and Russian militaries have thundered down on their homes, the aftermath devastating.

Reaching a Syrian flag means they’ve made it to the government-controlled west, but still not everyone is safe. 

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The Syrian flag marks the edge of government-held territory and safety, for some

CBS News

One woman begged the soldiers to tell her where her 15-year-old son is. He was arrested by the Syrian military, accused of fighting with the rebels.

“What should I do now?” she cried. “They just took him away.”

Hundreds of other young men of military age are also missing.

For others, it’s just a desperate scramble to get out.

Others still wait for friends and family to collect them. They are weary from years of war. Already they have waited far too long for help.