Syrian deal to evacuate tens of thousands of people begins

14 April, 2017, 16:22 | Author: Essie Rivera

After six years of fighting, with help from Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah, the Syrian government has negotiated the pact from a position of strength.

"It is a staggered movement of population", Abdel Hamid said.

A member of one of the Shi'ite parties earlier said 60 buses were moving through the town of al-Foua.

"Most of the passengers are women and children who started gathering yesterday evening and spent the night in the cold waiting".

The actual implementation of the deal started on Thursday, by a swap of detainees between the rebels and the government forces. The ones who have reached Aleppo will stay where they are until the others moving from Zabadani and Madaya reach the rebel controlled areas. She refused to leave her home and her land.

Some 4.7 million people live in hard-to-reach and besieged areas in Syria, including 644,000 in UN-declared besieged locations.

"We didn't choose it", he said.

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has struck a number deals in the past year which have provided for rebels and their families to leave areas the opposition has held, often after months or years of being besieged by government forces.

"But of course they're going to go back to their cities after the liberation", he said.

The opposition said the deal amounted to a forced demographic change to displace opponents away from the main cities in western Syria.

Twelve opposition fighters and 19 Syrian regime soldiers were released as part of the exchange.

The evacuation of the four villages is expected to take place today, the Syrian Observatory told AFP. They are expected to discuss their next move in the Syria war.

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.

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