Monday 29 May 2017

Evacuations from besieged Syrian towns begin under government deal with rebels

A protest held in 2012 in the Syrian resort town of Zabadani, where buses have started evacuating rebels (AP Photo, File)
A protest held in 2012 in the Syrian resort town of Zabadani, where buses have started evacuating rebels (AP Photo, File)

The Syrian government and the opposition have begun a co-ordinated population swap of tens of thousands of people from four besieged towns.

Activists including the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said buses carrying rebels began leaving the rebel-held towns Madaya and Zabadani near Damascus on Friday morning in the first phase of the deal.

The agreement will also see the evacuation of residents from two pro-government Shiite villages in northern Syria.

Read more: 'Misdirected' US airstrike in Syria kills 18 allied fighters

Dozens of buses entered the areas on Wednesday but by late Thursday people had not boarded them, according to opposition activists in the rebel-held towns.

If the evacuations are completed, they would be the first in number of rounds stretching over two months to evacuate some 30,000 Syrians from besieged areas, in a deal struck by rebels and the government.

Press Association

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